12th South Asian Games: Indian swimmers dominate

Indian swimmers dominate : Arvind, Sajan, Sejwal nail gold medals on day two; Sayani edges Shraddha

12th South Asian Games: Indian swimmers dominate

M Arvind, Sajan Prakash and Sandeep Sejwal all produced dominating performances as India bagged four gold medals on the second day of the swimming competition at the 12th South Asian Games here on Sunday.

While Bengaluru’s Arvind proved way too good for a weakened field in the men’s 200M backstroke event, long distance specialist Sajan won a two-horse race between him and national rival Saurabh Sangvekar in the 1500M freestyle, and Sejwal once again stamped his authority in the 100M breaststroke event at the Dr Zakir Hussain Aquatic Complex.

Sayani Ghosh and Shraddha Sudhir slugged it out in the women’s 400M individual medley before the former outscored the other in the final three segments to land India’s fourth gold of the day.

There were disappointments for India though with favourites Maana Patel and Veerdhawal Khade settling for silver medals. While teenage sensation Maana shockingly lost to much-improved Kimiko Raheem of Sri Lanka in the her pet 200M backstroke event, seasoned campaigner Khade was outdone in the final third by the in-form Mathew Abeysinghe in the 50M freestyle event. Sadly, Khade also saw his games record obliterated by the young Sri Lankan, who has been setting the pool on fire at this meet.

Right from the time Sajan and Saurabh emerged after the opening dive, the 1500M event looked more like a national championship battle rather than an international meet. Sajan, who has been training in Phuket, Thailand, on a one-year scholarship from world body FINA since May, 2015, kept pace with Saurabh for nearly 80 percent of the race.

Having battled him many times in training, national camps and competition, Sajan just focused on maintaining the pace before beginning to open his shoulders over the final 300 metres. He increased his tempo considerably and with two laps left, his lead stood at nearly 10 seconds. From thereon it was just a foregone conclusion and Sajan touched the pad with a new games record time of 15:55.34. Saurabh won silver with a timing of 16:13.15 while Md Mahfizur Rahman (17:11.95) claimed bronze.

Sejwal’s reign as a champion in the 100M breast stroke seemed in danger during the early part of the race when Puneet Rana staged a surprise early attack. Delhiite Sejwal, however, managed to hit the halfway stage in front from where he remained untouchable.

Chugging along beautifully, Sejwal touched the pad first in a timing of 1:03.14, obliterating his own record at the last meet in Dhaka in 2010.

Rana (1:03.80) settled for silver while Sri Lanka’s Kiran Jaisinghe (1:05.86) claimed the bronze medal.

Results: Men: 50M freestyle: Mathew Abeysinghe (SL) 23.33 seconds (GR; Old: 23.75, Veerdhawal Khade, Ind, 2010) 1; Veerdhawal (Ind) 23.54, 2; Md Mahfizur Rahman (Ban) 23.95, 3. 1500M freestyle: Sajan Prakash (Ind) 15:55.34

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