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South Asian Games: Gold rush continues for India; swimmers, wrestlers shine

Guwahati: There was no stopping the Indian juggernaut in the 12th South Asian Games with the country's swimmers, wrestlers and weightlifters continuing their demolition of competition to fetch a bulk of the gold medals and complete a second successive day of supremacy here.

India stood heads and shoulders above competition to top the medals tally with a count of 42, which included 27 gold, 12 silver and 3 bronze medals. The second spot continued to be held by Sri Lanka with a total of 37 medals (8 gold, 17 silver, 12 bronze).

The bulk of the medals today came through the swimmers, who scooped 10 in all -- including 4 gold, 5 silver and 1 bronze. The wrestlers added 4 gold and a silver, while the weightlifters snared 3 gold medals. The swimmers, who had fetched 3 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze medals yesterday, once again created a splash with Sandeep Sejwal picking his second gold of the Games.

As many as five Games record were created out of the seven events today with the Indians accounting for three of them, including Sejwal's.

However, India suffered a reverse as well with ace swimmer Veerdhawal Khade losing the men's 50m freestyle golf to promising Sri Lankan teenager Matthew Abeysinghe, who grabbed his third gold of the Games, the most by any swimmer so far. Abeysinghe won in a Games Record time of of 23:33 to emerge as the fastest swimmer of Games, eclipsing Khade's 2010 Dhaka edition mark of 23.75 secs. Khade also bettered his own Dhaka mark with an effort of 23.54 secs but had to be content with the silver.

On the other hand, Sejwal, who won a gold in 200m breaststroke yesterday, added another yellow metal in 100m breastroke in a new Games Record time of 1:03.14 bettering his own mark of 1:05.01 which he had set in 2010.

Another Indian, Puneet Rana took the silver in 1:03.80 while Kiran Jasinghe of Sri Lanka got the bronze.

In men's 1500m freestyle, Kerala swimmer Sajan Prakash won his first international gold in 15:55.30 ahead of compatriot Saurabh Sangvekar who took the silver in 16:13.2.

Mohd. Mahfizur Rahman of Bangladesh was third in 17:12.0. In women's 400m individual medley, India also finished one-two with Sayani Ghosh winning the gold in 05:14.51 while Shraddha Sudhir bagged the silver in 05:23.32. J Silva of Sri Lanka was third in 05:44.20. M Arvind gave India the fourth gold by winning the men's 200m backstroke event.

In women's 200m backstroke, Manna Patel took a silver in 2 minutes and 22.06 seconds behind Kimiko Raheem of Sri Lanka who won the gold in Games Record time of 2:18.09.

The lone bronze winner for India was Chahat Arora in women's 100m breastroke. Thw wrestlers, meanwhile, continued to simply annihilate
competition. Today, Amit Dhankar (70kg), Mamta (53kg), Manju Kumari (58kg) and Pradeep (61kg) picked up the gold medals in their respective events.

The lone silver for Indian in wrestling came through Gopal Yadav (86kg) who lost to Mohd Imam of Pakistan in the final. India also continued their overwhelming dominance in the weightlifting event by bagging three more gold medals.

Saraswati Rout (women's 58 kg), Sambo Lapung (men's 69 kg) and Ajay Singh (men's 77 kg) won a gold each today to take India's medal tally from weightlifting to six gold out of eight on offer in two days.

Rout brought the first gold of the day, and fourth for India, in women's 58kg with a total lift of 187 kg (80 kg in snatch + 107 kg clean and jerk). Fullapati Chakma of Bangladesh won the silver by lifting a total of 144 kg (63 kg + 81 kg) while Mohideen Umeria of Sri Lanka got the bronze with 142 kg (61 kg + 81 kg).

Lapung then gave India another gold in men's 69 kg event in a close contest. After trailing by 5 kg in snatch, the Indian lifted five more kilograms than his Sri Lanka rival M Disanayake in clean and jerk and the two lifters tied on total lift of 281kg.

Lapung was adjudged the gold medal winner as his body weight (68.8 kg) was lesser by 200 grams than Disanayake (69.00 kg) who won the silver. Sufiyan Abu of Pakistan won the bronze with a total lift of 275 kg (124kg + 151kg).

Youngster Ajay secured the third gold of the day with his personal best effort. Six clear lifts -- three in snatch and as many in clean and jerk -- took Ajay to gold with a total lift of 305 kg (136 kg + 169 kg). Chinthana of Sri Lanka won the silver with a total lift of 300 kg and Umar Rasool Lone of Pakistan got the bronze with a total lift of 281 kg.

In Shillong, Y Sapna Devi and Anjul Namdeo clinched a gold and bronze in the women's and men's events respectively of wushu. Sapna dished out a fine display to win the gold with a huge margin as she secured 9.45 points to emerge champion in the women's taolu (Changquan) event at the Rising Sun Sports Complex, Assam Rifles, in Laitkor.

The men's taolu (Changquan) event, on the other hand, went down the wire as Namdeo settled for a bronze with 8:66 points behind Nepalese Bijay Sinjali's 8.80 and P L H Lakshan, who won the gold with 8:86. Also continuing their fine show were the cyclists, who added a gold, a silver and a bronze medal today.

Lidiyamol Sunny and Tongbram Manorama Devi bagged a gold and silver in women's 40km criterium event. Sunny accumulated 30 points to bag the top spot, while Manorama secured 26 points as Indians returned one-two for the third time in a row. In men's 60km criterium event, India's Pankaj Kumar bagged a bronze with 21 total points.

Also performing well were the archers and the hosts remained on course to grab all the 10 gold medals on offer by storming into the finals of the recurve and compound team and mixed pair events. Indian women shuttlers also began their campaign with an easy 3-0 win over their Nepalese opponents.

Cynosure of Indian badminton team at the SA Games, PV Sindhu gave the team a perfect start a day after she was the flagbearer at the opening ceremony with a 21-2 21-8 win over Sara Devi Tamang in 15 minutes. 18-year-old rising Indian shuttler Gadde Ruthvika Shivani
used her height to advantage to breeze past Nangsal Tamang 21-6 21-2 in 15 minutes to make it 2-0 for the hosts. Meanwhile in men's event, India beat Afghanistan 3-0 with Ajay Jayram, HS Prannoy, Akshay Dewalkar and Pranay Chopra securing facile victories to top Group A.

On the hockey field in Guwahati, the Indian women's hockey team began its campaign with a 24-0 mauling of Nepal in a completely lopsided round robin league match. Strikers Soundarya Yendala (15th, 52nd, 62nd and 64th minutes) and Poonam Barla (7th, 472nd, 43rd and 51st) scored the most with four strikes each.

Four players - Rani (2nd, 46th and 48th), Jaspreet Kaur (4th, 35th and 56th), Neha Goyal (14th, 22nd and 70th) and Deepika (53rd, 62nd and 67th) - scored three goals each while Gurjit Kaur (21st and 41st) and Preeti Dubey (23rd and 29th) got the other goals for India.

The day was not without disappointment though with India suffering a major setback in squash. The fancied men's duo of Saurav Ghosal and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu lost to opponents from arch-rivals Pakistan in the individual men's semifinals.

Top seed Ghosal was out of sorts in his 4-11, 5-11, 12-10, 5-11 loss to Farhan Zaman while Sandhu did a shade better before conceding the match in the fourth game in favour of his rival second seed Nasir Iqbal, citing a right hamstring injury. Sandhu was trailing at 7-11 14-12 7-11 6-6 when he called injury time out in an ill-tempered match at the R G Baruah Sports Complex.

It is not yet known whether Sandhu would be fit to play against Ghosal for the bronze-medal match tomorrow after his injury today in the semifinal match which had seen the Indian arguing with the referee who once warned him to stop.

In the women's event, however, ace player and top seed Joshna Chinappa easily defeated her Pakistani rival Sadia Gul 11-9 11-7 11-5 in the semifinals to set up the summit clash tomorrow against another player of the western neighbours.

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