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India start campaign with four medals on first day

New Delhi: Hosts India commenced their bid to clinch the number two position in the Commonwealth Games by scooping up two silver and as many bronze medals from the weightlifting arena but a gold eluded the hosts on the first day of competitions on Monday.

Women lifters Soniya Chanu and Sandhya Devi Rani opened the medal chest for India by grabbing the silver and bronze in the 48 kg class. Augustina Nwaokolo of Nigeria won the gold with a Games record adding to its lustre.

Their men counterparts Sukhen Dey and V Srinivasa Rao followed suit later by clinching the silver and bronze in the 56 kg class behind winner Ibrahim Amirul Hamizan of Malaysia.

Chanu, favourite for the 48 kg gold medal, could not justify her billing and settled for silver by clearing 167 kg which was eight kg below Nwaokolo’s total clearance.

Sandya Rani took the bronze with a total clearance of 165 kg.

Later in the day, Dey and Rao picked up the silver and bronze behind Hamizan with total lifts of 252 and 248 kgs. The Malaysian’s title-winning effort was 257 kg.

The first day of competitions began with an epoch-making maiden entry into the final by India’s men’s freestyle swimming quartet of Virdhawal Khade, Anshul Kothari, Arjun Jayaprakash and Aaron D’Souza.

The foursome finished sixth in the morning heats to make the evening final where they finished in the same position clocking 3 mins, 27.14 secs.

It’s the first time that in swimming the country had been represented in the final in the Commonwelth Games.

“This is really fantastic. We have made history by reaching the final for the first time in Commonwealth Games competition,” team coach Pradeep Kumar said.

Two other Indian swimmers – Badrinath Melkote (men’s 50m backstroke) and Shubha Chittaranjan (women’s 50m butterfly) – qualified for the semi finals by ending up 14th and 16th in the heats. Both were, however, eliminated in the evening semi finals.

But all other swimmers sunk without making a splash. Surbahi Tipre and Arti Ghorpade finished a disappointing 22nd and 24th in women’s 200m freestyle.

In men’s 400m freestyle heats, Mandar Divase and Ullalmath Gangan finished distant 17th and 18th respectively.

Other Indians to bow out on day one included Beijing Olympian Rehan Poncha and Tarun Tokas (men’s 200m butterfly); Priyanka Priyadarshini, Poorva Shetye and Mankiran Kaur (women’s 50m breaststroke) and Pooja Alva (women’s 200m IM).

In tennis, India put up a dominant display as all three singles players recorded easy wins and star pair of Leander Paes and Sania Mirza entered the quarterfinals of the mixed doubles.

Top seeds Leander and Sania rounded off the day for India in splendid fashion by crushing St Lucia’s duo Stacey Nykita Roheman and Alberton Richelieu in straight sets in just 39 minutes.

Before that Rohan Bopanna, Rushmi Chakravarthi and Poojashree Venkatesh scored facile victories in the singles against weak opponents.

The only blot on India’s otherwise perfect day was the three-set defeat of Bopanna and Nirupama Sanjeev against the top seeded Australian pair of Paul Hanley and Anastasia Rodionova in the mixed doubles first round.

Indian shuttlers also kick-started their campaign with a 5-0 clean sweep over Kenya in the mixed team event.

India, however, were stunned 3-2 by New Zealand in the women’s table tennis team competition after having blanked Sri Lanka in their Group D campaign opener.

The country’s hopes in squash suffered a major blow when top woman player Dipika Pallikal pulled out following a bout of mild fever.

Three other men players, Sourav Ghosal, Harinder Pal Sandhu and Siddharth Suchde, however progressed to the round of 32.

Indian archers began their campaign in style, with the men’s and women’s recurve teams finishing on top ahead of tomorrow’s elimination round.

Rahul Banerjee and Jayanta Talukdar topped the men’s section, while Deepika Kumari and Dola Banerjee dominated the women’s field.

Former world champion Deepika scored 609 and that was enough to claim top position in women’s individual recurve section, with compatriot Dola Banerjee finishing second best.

In hockey, Indian women were held 1-1 by Scotland in a pool match.

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