Sajan, Shivani hog the limelight on opening day

Women's 4x100 relay team claims Karnataka's only gold; Richa makes winning return

Sajan, Shivani hog the limelight on opening day

Champions Karnataka were made to toil hard as Indian Olympians called the shots on the opening day of the 71st Senior National Aquatic Championships here at the Prakash Taran Pushkar Bhavan on Saturday.

After the final races for the day were delayed due to a never-ending opening ceremony, the talented Sajan Prakash and Shivani Kataria took centre stage with fine performances in their races. Karnataka had just one gold on the day, in the women’s 4x100 freestyle.

Sajan, swimming for Kerala, was the first to hit the pool. And the Rio Olympian did not disappoint, winning the 200M freestyle in 1:53.06. Though Karnataka’s Avinash Mani tried to catch up with his senior pro, his efforts didn’t bear the desired result as he settled for the silver in 1:54.85. AS Anand of the Services was a surprise bronze medallist, clocking 1:55.12 to complete the podium.

In the corresponding fixture among the women, Shivani raised the bar a notch higher by setting a new meet record with her perfectly timed swim.

The Haryana swimmer managed to sneak ahead at the first turn and went on to build a healthy two-body length lead by the final lap. Then on, it was a matter of holding on to the lead and the Rio Olympian did that without much fuss to take home the gold in 2:06.63. The timing helped her better her previous mark of 2:06.97 set at the Ranchi meet last year. Karnataka’s Malavika V claimed silver and Damini Gowda the bronze. “Coming into the race, I knew I could win it. But I was looking to better the record. I am happy that I could achieve my goal,” said Shivani. “But I think I can do even better, that’s the next target.”

The sparse crowd here also saw the once dominant Richa Mishra return after a three-year hiatus to clinch the gold in her pet event, the 200M individual medley. Swimming for Police, Richa touched the pad in 2:28.47.

“It definitely feels good to be back,” said Richa after her win. “But it wasn’t as easy as it used to be. I am not in the best shape and moreover, others have improved too. But overall things look good,” added the Delhi-based swimmer who will also participate in the 400M individual medley.

Karnataka’s only gold came in the last race of the day, the women’s 4x100M freestyle. The quartet of Sneha T, Damini Gowda, Khushi Dinesh and Malavika V clocked 4:10.03, a handsome two seconds ahead of Maharashtra in the second spot.

DH News Service

Results: Men: 200M freestyle: Sajan Prakash (Kerala) 1:53.06, 1; Avinash Mani (Karnataka) 1:54.85, 2; AS Anand (Services) 1:55.12, 3. 50M breaststroke: Sandeep Sejwal (Railways) 28.44, 1; Punit Rana (Police) 29.09, 2; Vaishnav Hegde (Karnataka) 29.72, 3. 200M individual medley: Aravind Mani (Services) 2:09.09, 1; Srihari Natraj (Karnataka) 2:10.15, 2; Neel Roy (Maharashtra) 2:10.80, 3.

4x100M freestyle relay: Services 3:30.30, 1; Railways 3:30.33, 2; Punjab 3:34.79, 3.

Women: 200M freestyle: Shivani Kataria (Haryana) 2:06.63 (NMR, Old: 2:06.97, Shivani Kataria, Haryana, 2016), 1; Malavika V (Karnataka) 2:09.69, 2; Damini K Gowda (Karnataka) 2:11.10, 3. 50M breaststroke: Chahat Arora (Punjab) 34.39, 1; Jayaveena AV (Tamil Nadu) 34.77, 2; Annie Jain (Madhya Pradesh) 35.01, 3. 200M individual medley: Richa Mishra (Police) 2:28.47, 1; Sayani Gosh (Bengal) 2:28.69, 2; Meenakshi VKR (Tamil Nadu) 2:30.32, 3. 4x100M freestyle relay: Karnataka 4:10.03, 1; Maharashtra 4:12.06, 2; Tamil Nadu 4:12.39, 3.

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