National Games: Golden Dive for Aaron and Sajan

Rephrasing Jonathan Swift, “records” and pie crusts are meant to be broken. The 35th National Games “splashed” off to a memorable start, with national records bring rewritten . Haryana topped the table with seven medals (6 G, 1 S), with Kerala and Madhya Pradesh closely tailing with 5 medals each.


Sajan Prakash: Swimming his way into fame. Picture Credits: onmanorama

Aaron D’Souza of Madhya Pradesh impressed with his performance in the pool, clocking 1:52.06 secs in the 200m men’s freestyle to break the previous best of 1:53.91 secs (Virdhawal Khade, 33rd National Games, Guwahati, 2007). The 22 year old, came in third in the 100m Butterfly event, after West Bengal’s Supriya Mondal (55.18 secs) and Kerala’s Sajan Prakash (55.03 secs). Sajan, who also bagged a a silver in the 200m Freestyle (1:53.27secs),  is expected to perform well in tomorrows 1500m freestyle. All three, Sajan, Mondal and D’Souza battered Virdhwal Khade’s record 55.56 secs in the run.It was a disappointing day for National Champion Saurabh Sangwekar who could only manage a bronze in the 200m Freestyle at 1:54.58 secs.

The women’s event in the same category saw Madhya Pradesh’s Richa Mishra bag gold (2:12.44 secs), with Maharashtra’s Jyotsna Pansare and Kerala’s Pooja R Alva taking silver and bronze respectively. Richa, who is no stranger to records, has shown early on in the competition that she’s a force to be reckoned with. She has the 400m freestyle and the 800m freestyle record to her name (set during the 2011 National Games, Ranchi), as well as top records in the 200m and 400m individual medley events. Haryana’s Shivani Katria, Maharashtra’s Monique Gandhi and Karnataka’s Malaika V finished in the podium in the women’s 200m  freestyle.

The hosts dazzled in the 4x100m relay freestyle men’s event, clocking 3:31.32 secs, finishing ahead of Maharashtra (3:33.1 secs) and Madhya Pradesh (3:33.17 secs). They came in third in the women’s category (4:12.40 secs), after Maharashtra (4:4.57 secs) and Karnataka (4:6.51 secs). The1500m Freestyle (M&W), 200m Breaststroke (M & W) and 4 x 100 m relay medley (M & W) finals will take place on the 2nd day.

Haryana’s Gold Haul in Wrestling:

Srinivasa Rao Valluri (Andhra Pradesh), Dipak Mahajan (Chandigarh) and Mohanasundaram Shanmugham (Kerala) grabbed top places in weightlifting (up to 56 kg).Haryana showed their might in wrestling, bagging a medal in all the events held today, with Suman Kundu (Freestyle Women’s 69 kg) Ritu Malik (Free style women’s 55 kg), Jitender Jitender (Free style Men’s 74 kg), Ravinder Singh (Greco Roman Men’s 66 kg) and Manoj Kumar (Men’s 85 kg) all taking home a gold. In a shocking final, Sandeep Tomar (Services) got the better of Commonwealth gold medallist Amit Kumar in the freestyle men’s 57kg category.

As the baton moves into the hands of “Ammu” from “Chhaua”, and the participants vie for medals, we hope to see more record breaking performances. As new talents emerge and the pro’s of the game prove their mettle, it can be said that this February is bound to be a highly productive month for sports in India.

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