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ALSO READ: CWG 2018, Day 1 – As it happened
Saikhom’s record-setting performance was highlighted by a CWG and personal best lift of 86kg in the snatch category – all in the span of six minutes – and 110kg in the clean & jerk. The achievements of Saikhom, who in February was crowned
Weightlifter of the Year award at the Mahindra Scorpio Times of India Awards (TOISA) for her gold medal winning lift at last year’s World Weightlifting Championships, went well past the CWG record of 175kg set by Nigeria’s Augustina Nwaokolo in Delhi in 2010.
ALSO READ: How Mirabai Chanu smashed CWG weightlifting landmarks
The good news for India had come on Thursday morning as Gururaja, after lifting his best weight of 111kg in the snatch, added 138kg in his third attempt in the clean and jerk to end with a total lift of 249kg – thus achieving his personal best. Malaysia’s Muhammad Izhar Ahmad won gold with a total lift of 261kg – a Commonwealth Games record – while bronze went to Sri Lanka’s Chaturanga Lakmal (248kg).
ALSO READ: Gururaja claims silver in men’s 56kg weightlifting
Ace boxer Manoj Kumar opened India’s campaign in style as he thrashed Nigeria’s Osita Umeh 5-0 in a one-sided round of 32 bout to progress into the pre-quarterfinals of the men’s 69kg category. Manoj is one of India’s brightest prospects from the 13-member contingent to return home with a medal.
The third of India’s weightlifters to compete on day one of the CWG, teenager Muthupandi Raja, did not manage a podium finish. The 18-year-old, who hails from Kovilpatti in Tamil Nadu, lifted 116 in snatch and 150 in clean & jerk (total lift of 266) to finish at sixth place in the men’s 62kg category at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre in Gold Coast on Thursday.
In badminton, World No 2 Kidambi Srikanth won his singles fixture in the mixed team Group A match beating Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne 21-16, 21-10. India went on to blank Sri Lanka 5-0. The mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Chopra and Ruthvika Gadde had a tough outing before claiming a 21-15, 19-21, 22-20 win over Sachin Dias and Thilini Pramodika. In the second match, Srikanth posted a straight games victory before the young men’s doubles pair of Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty got a 21-17, 21-14 win. Sania Nehwal had an easy outing, routing Madushika Dilrukshi 21-8, 21-4. The victory was rounded off by Ashwini Ponappa and Sikki Reddy (21-12, 21-14).
India continued their terrific show in the badminton event later in the day as they thrashed Pakistan 5-0 in their second mixed team event of the day. The pair of Satwik and N Sikki Reddy beat Muhammad Irfan and Palwasha Bashir 21-10, 21-13 in mixed doubles to give India a winning start. Then India’s top-ranked shuttler Srikanth made it 2-0 beating Murad Ali 21-16, 22-20 in the men’s singles. Saina sealed the deal, outclassing Mahoor Shahzad 21-7, 21-11. 3-0 became 5-0 as both the Indian doubles pair – men’s and women’s – hardly broke a sweat to win their respective ties.
In the women’s table tennis team event, India beat Sri Lanka 3-0. Manika Batra, India’s top-ranked paddler, gave her team the lead with an easy 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 win over Erandi Warusawithana in the first singles event. Sutirtha Mukherjee doubled the lead with a 11-5, 11-8, 11-4 verdict over Ishara Badu in the second. Sutirtha then teamed up with Pooja Sahasrabudhe to beat Badu and Hansani Kapugeekiyana in the doubles to seal victory.
However, at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre, the world No 10 Indian women’s team went down to No 26 Wales 2-3 in a surprise result. After conceding two goals in the first half, India fought back with two goals from captain Rani Rampal and Nikki Pradhan in the third period but Wales then managed to find the winner in the 57th minute courtesy Tash Marke Jones.
It was a mixed day for India in the squash events as Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal and Vikram Malhotra advanced to the round of 16 while Saurav Ghosal and Harinder Pal Sandhu suffered heartbreaking losses. Pallikal and Chinnappa, who would be defending their women’s doubles gold medal, made winning starts in their singles competitions. While Pallikal got the better of Trinidad and Tobago’s Charlotte Knaggs, Chinnappa sailed past Papua and New Guinea Lynette Vai.
But Ghosal’s shock 2-3 defeat to Jamaica’s Chris Binnie came as a massive shocker. Ghosal played brilliantly in the first two games but lost the next three to bow out of the meet. Malhotra, who outplayed Manda Chilambwe of Zambia in the round of 64, beat Xavier Koenig of Mauritius in round of 32 while Sandhu, who got the better of Cameron Stafford in the round of 64, lost to Ivan Yuen in the round of 32 to end his run in the event.
India failed to qualify for three separate cycling events. The team of Amritha Reghunath, Monorama Devi Tongbram, Sonali Mayanglambam and Deborah Herold finished seventh in the women’s 4000m team pursuit Qualification clocking 5:05.66 . Herold and Aleena Reji secured a sixth-place finish in the Women’s team sprint event, whereas in the men’s team sprint qualifying, the team of Ranjit Singh, Sahil Kumar and Sanuraj Sanandaraj ended up seventh clocking 46.174.
In swimming, India’s Virdhawal Khade finished a lowly eighth with a timing of 24.50 seconds in the semi-finals of the men’s 50m butterfly event while Srihari Nataraj, who clocked a timing of 56.65 seconds, exited in the 100m backstroke semi-finals after finishing eighth. However, Nataraj bettered his national record by .06 seconds which he had set earlier in the heats (56.71sec).
In lawn bowls, New Zealand’s Jo Edwards beat India’s Pinki 20-16 in the women’s singles sectional play (Section D) while Wales got the better of India in the men’s triples sectional play (Section A) with a 23-9 scoreline. Later, India beat Niue 29-6 in men’s pair round 2 (Section D) but lost to Malta 15-20 in women’s Fours 2nd round (Section B).
It wasn’t a good day in the office for the basketball teams though as both the men and women suffered defeats in their opening matches. First up, Jamaica defeated Indian women 66-57 in a preliminary round Pool B match. India seldom looked in control, having being outplayed in every department.
Captain Shireen Limaye (18 points) and power forward Jeena Skaria (12 points) fought but didn’t get enough support as Jamaica won the rebounding battle handsomely, including 19 offensive rebounds. India next play Malaysia on Saturday.
The men fared a tad better having won the first two quarters 27-15 and 36-24 but lost steam in the remaining two with Cameroon launching a terrific comeback. In the quarter 3, they lost 13-23 and surrendered the decider 11-34 to lose by an overall margin of 87-96. India will face England next on April 7 (Saturday).