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SAG 2016: Boxers, shooters, judokas' golden sweep keeps India on top

Guwahati: The boxers hardly broke a sweat to scoop all the seven gold medals up for grabs, while shooters ended their campaign with an outstanding tally of 25 gold medals to ensure that India's reign at the top remained unhindered at the 12th South Asian Games, here yesterday.

On the penultimate day of competitions, the Indian contingent continued to be perched at the top with 299 medals (181 gold, 88 silver and 30 bronze). Sri Lanka were second on the table with 181 medals (25 gold, 60 silver and 96 bronze, followed by Pakistan with 100 medals (11 gold, 35 silver and 55 bronze).

Gold medal winner Sweta Singh (center), silver medal winner Heena Sidhu (L) and bronze medal winner Yashaswini Singh Deswal of India at the presentation ceremony
Gold medal winner Sweta Singh (center), silver medal winner Heena Sidhu (L) and bronze medal winner Yashaswini Singh Deswal of India at the presentation ceremony. Pic/ PTI

Besides, the boxers and shooters' good show, the judokas grabbed seven gold and a silver in a near sweep while India also bagged both the yellow metals in men's and women's kabbadi as well as in men's and women's handball in a complete domination yet again.

The Indian women's football team also won a gold medal, defeating Nepal 4-0 in the summit clash. Their men's counterparts, however, lost to Nepal 1-2 to settle for a silver. The boxers were the stars of the show today in Shillong with all the seven men in the final notching up mostly comprehensive victories.

Commonwealth Games silver-medallist L Devendro Singh (49kg) began India's gold rush when he thrashed Pakistan's Mohib Ulla at the SAI campus in North Eastern Hill University on the outskirts of the city. The London Olympics quarterfinalist was adjudged the winner on a split decision of 2-1.

Next man in was 35-year-old former national champion Madan Lal (52kg) and he too prevailed over another Pakistani opponent in Mohammad Syed Asif to be adjudged 3-0 winner. World No.2 and World Championships bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa (56kg) was the fan favourite of the day and he impressed the boisterous crowd to prevail over Sri Lankan W Ruwan Thilina.

Against the aggressive Lankan who was aiming for head butts, Thapa adopted a defensive strategy to avoid his initial blows. World no.6 Vikas Krishan (775kg) put up a brave front, fighting through flu to down Pakistan's Tanveer Ahmed. The Olympic medal prospect prevailed over his opponent with some feisty uppercuts and was adjudged 3-0 winner unanimously.

Another from the Indian boxing hub of Haryana, 20-year-old Dheeraj Rangi, who had secured a silver medal at the World Military Games in South Korea last year, defeated Pakistan's Ahmed Ali in the 60kg gold medal bout.

Experienced boxer Manoj Kumar, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was also adjudged winner in an unanimous decision of 3-0 against Dinidu Saparamadu of Sri Lanka in the 64kg category.

Commonwealth Games medallist Mandeep Jangra (69kg) survived a closely-fought contest against Afghanistan's Rahemi Alla Dad to win 3-0. At the shooting range in Guwahati, Indian shooters made yet another clean sweep on the final day to sign off with a staggering 25 out of 26 gold medals on offer.

Rio Olympics bound Gurpreet Singh shot gold in men's individual 25m rapid fire pistol with a total of 28 hits on target, while Sweta Singh grabbed another yellow metal in women's individual 10m air pistol event with a total score of 194.4 even though she was shooting with her spare gun at the Kahilipara Shooting Range here.

Another Olympics quota holder Heena Sidhu had to be content with the silver in the women's 10m air pistol event with a total score of 192.5, while 18-year-old Chandigarh shooter Yashaswini Singh Deswal took the bronze.

India also took a gold each in both the team events to sweep aide any competition from other countries in the discipline. India gave away just one gold -- to Bangladesh -- in the discipline. The home shooters ended the competition with 25 gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze. Bangladesh are at a distant second with one gold, three silver and three bronze.

Gurpreet made up for his disappointing sixth-place finish in the 10m air pistol event on Saturday by winning the gold in 25m rapid fire pistol event yesterday. Bashir Ghulam Mustafa of Pakistan took the silver with 24 hits on target while another Indian Vijay Kumar, who had won a silver in this event in 2012 London Olympics, bagged the bronze.

In the women's 10m air pistol final, there was tough competition among the three Indians, exchanging leads among three of them. But towards the end, Sweta had established good lead over her two Indian rivals after young Deswal had a horrendous series of two shots of 8.3 and 7,7 which cost her dear.

Sidhu was not at her best in the final and she had just five shots of 10 plus scores out of 20 attempts, besides having poor shots of 8.8 each. For Sweta, this was the worst ever performance despite winning the gold as she had to shoot with a spare gun.

In judo, Bhupinder Singh (60kg), Jasleen Singh Saini (66kg), Manjeet Nadal (73kg) and Karanjeet Singh Maan (81kg) won the gold medal in men's category, while Sushila Devi Likmabam (48kg), Kalpana Devi Thoudam (52kg) and Anita Chanu Angom (57kg) clinched the yellow metal in the women's section.

Sunibala Devi Huidrom lost to Phupu Lhamukhatri of Nepal in 63kg final to settle for silver. In kabaddi, defending champions India maintained their supremacy by clinching gold in both men's and women's events. Indian men beat arch rivals Pakistan 9-7 in a closely fought thrilling summit clash while their women counterparts
hardly broke a sweat in defending their gold they had won in the previous edition by thrashing Bangladesh 36-12 in the final.

It was a repeat of the 2010 summit clash in both the finals and Pakistan and Bangladesh had to be content with a silver in men's and women's events for second time in a row. In handball, India dethroned Pakistan as regional champions in the men's handball while their women counterparts also clinched the gold to stamp the home country's supremacy in the discipline.

Indian men beat Pakistan 32-31 in a nail-biting summit clash that went down to the wire at the Laxmibai National Institute of Physical Education Northeast Regional Center grounds here.

The Indian men's team thus exacted revenge of their loss in the 2010 edition summit clash in Dhaka. The Indian women's side, on the other hand, defended the title they had won in 2010 edition by beating Bangladesh 45-25.

However, in men's football, India's long wait for a gold in the South Asian Games after 1995 continued as they lost 1-2 against Nepal in the summit clash. In a closely-fought final, India took the lead in the 31st minute with Holicharan Nazary converting a penalty kick but Nepal replied strongly in the second half by pumping in two goals through Prakash Thapa (66th) and Nawayug Shreshtha (72nd) to win the match at the Indira Gandhi Stadium here.

India thus settled for the silver while Bangladesh took the bronze after defeating Maldives 7-6 via penalty shoot-out in the third-place play-off today.

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