Aaron signs off on a high

Aaron signs off on a high

National Games: MP swimmer completes 100-200M freestyle double; Sejwal shines

Aaron signs off on a high

Aaron D’Souza ended the 35th National Games swimming competitions just as he had started it -- with a shining piece of gold around his neck.

Aaron, representing Madhya Pradesh here, had won the 200M freestyle on the opening day at the Dr B R Amdedkar Swimming Complex, and on Saturday, the 22-year-old edged ahead of a strong field to win the 100M freestyle, his third gold medal of the competition.

In a meet that was a statistician’s delight -- 37 records were rewritten in 40 events -- Aaron’s was the final record to arrive. The swimmer who hails from Karnataka timed 50.97 to sink Veerdhawal Khade’s Games mark of 51.30 set at Ranchi.

“It feels awesome,” said Aaron, who is employed with Railways. “I won the first gold of the meet and here I am with the final gold. The plan was to go out fast but there was a delay in the start and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable in the first lap, but then I decided to give it my all and it worked,” he said.

Aaron was in second place behind Virdhawal Khade after the first lap, with Anshul Kothari of Gujarat in third place. But Aaron’s second-half blitz altered the standings, with Khade reduced to silver position.

Besides the two individual gold medals, Aaron had won the 4x100 medley relay gold in between. That is at least two gold medals less for Karnataka – Aaron’s home state -- whose only medal on the final day was a bronze in women’s water polo. Karnataka won just one gold in swimming, through Arvind M in the 400M individual medley.

“I made the switch because of money. After all, we have to look after ourselves and Madhya Pradesh offered good rewards and their announcement came early,” said Aaron. MP had offered eight lakhs per gold, luring some top talents to their pool.

Maharashtra topped the field with 11 gold, 16 silver and five bronze while MP were second with 10 gold, three silver and seven bronze. Hosts Kerala had six gold medals, all won by Sajan Prakash, whose gold rush ended with a fourth place in the 100M freestyle.

Sandeep Sejwal had it easy in the 100M breast stroke for his third gold medal. The Asian Games bronze winner in the 50M breast stroke, Sandeep led all the way through to time 1:02.12, better than his Games record of 1:03.85 set in Ranchi four years ago.

Haryana’s Puneet Rana fought gamely but had to settle for silver. In water polo, Karnataka women finished third in the league to bag the bronze. Services beat Kerala in a penalty shootout to win the men’s gold medal after the scores had been tied 7-7 at the end of regulation time.

Results: Men: 100M freestyle: Aaron D’Souza (Madhya Pradesh) 50.97 seconds (NMR. Old: 51.30, Virdhawal Khade, 2011), 1; Virdhawal Khade (Maharashtra) 51.10, 2; Ashul Kothari (Guarat) 52.17, 3.

100M breast stroke: Sandeep Sejwal (Madhya Pradesh) 1:02.12 (NMR. Old: 1:03.85, Sejwal, 2011), 1; Puneet Rana (Haryana) 1:04.16, 2; Anoop Augustine (Kerala) 1:04.55, 3.

Women: 100M freestyle: Shivani Kataria (Haryana) 58.34 seconds (NMR. Old: 59.71, Shikha Tandon 2002), 1; Aditi Dhumatkar (Maharashtra) 59.34, 2; Talasha Prabhu (Goa) 1:00.13, 3.

100M breast stroke: Chahat Arora (Chandigarh) 1:17.48, 1; Monique Gandhi (Maharashtra) 1:17.87, 2; A V Jayaveena (Tamil Nadu) 1:17.94, 3.

Waterpolo: Men (final): Services bt Kerala 7-7 (5-3 in shootout). Third-place play-off: Maharashtra bt Bengal 9-8. Women (league): Kerala bt Bengal 6-1. Final placings: Kerala 1; Maharashtra 2; Karnataka 3.

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