Gandhinagar: Boxers Ankushita Boro and Lovlina Borgohain kept Assam’s hopes alive to finish the 36th National Games inside the top-15 after both pugilists progressed to the final of their respective weight divisions here on Tuesday.

Assam is currently at the 15th spot with 23 medals (7 gold, 10 silver and 6 bronze), and a gold each from Ankushita and Lovlina will help the side leapfrog Telangana (with an additional gold) to the 14th position in the medal tally.

Services are unassailable at the top and all set to win the Raja Bhalindra Singh Trophy as the champion team in the National Games for the fourth time in succession; Maharashtra and Haryana are engaged in a keen battle for the second spot; Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are in a contest of their own as the Games is heading for a finish on Wednesday.

At the Mahatma Mandir on Tuesday, Ankushita set up an exciting Northeastern derby with Manipur’s Alena Thounaojam in a battle of supremacy for the 66kg welterweight category title before Tokyo bronze medalist Lovlina joined the club with an effortless win over Gujarat’s Ruchita Rajput in the women’s 75kg middleweight category semifinal. Among others from the region to advance to the final is Mizoram’s Malsawmitluanga in the men’s 75kg middleweight division.

However, it was heartbreak for multiple Asian championship medalist Shiva Thapa of Assam, who went down 2-3 in a close bout against Services’ Akash. His statemates, Jamuna Boro (57kg) and Pwilao Basumatary (60kg) also settled for the bronze.  Among the region’s other boxers to take the bronze are Manipur’s Pravish Konthoujam (women’s 60kg) and Mason Moirangthem (men’s 60kg), Tripura’s Karan Rupini (men’s 51kg) and Mizoram’s Lallawmawma (men’s 57kg). 

On the opposite exhibition hall of the Mahatma Mandir, the spotlight was well and truly on the Wushu arena where Abhishek Jamwal clinched Jammu and Kashmir’s first gold medal, as well as on Ladakh’s Owais Sarwar Ahengar who became the first two medallists for the Union Territory who are competing in the National Games for the first time. 

Maharashtra hold a four-gold lead over Haryana, thanks to the addition of the Softball men’s title and the domination of the Yogasana Artistic Group medals today. Haryana, who won gold through Ravi Panchal in Wushu here and the women’s Hockey team in Rajkot, will hope that success in the boxing ring tomorrow would help them regain the second place behind Services. 

Karnataka and Haryana lived up to their ranking to claim the men and women’s Hockey gold medals respectively in the Maj. Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in Rajkot.

Karnataka beat Uttar Pradesh via the sudden death tie breaker after the teams were locked 2-2 in regulation time and scored four goals apiece in the penalty shootout. Haryana women regained the trophy, edging out their arch-rivals Punjab by a solitary goal, scored by the redoubtable Rani Rampal.

Karnataka’s victory in the men’s hockey final via the sudden-death was their 27th gold medal and helped them retain the edge over Tamil Nadu in the race for the fourth spot. Though Tamil Nadu gained a gold through their Mixed Team in Triathlon and Kerala picked up two Canoeing and Kayaking gold medals today, Karnataka stayed ahead.

Tamil Nadu’s Akash Perumalsamy, S Keerthi, S Vaman and S Aarthi did not look the gift horse in its mouth in winning a surprise Triathlon gold. Krishiv Patel’s crash during his bicycle leg and his broken toe slowed him down considerably and despite the brave efforts by Monika Nagpure and Pragnya Mohan, Tamil Nadu won by a 41-second margin.

Kerala were hoping to win the men’s football gold but West Bengal had other ideas. They left none in doubt about their superiority with a 5-0 hammering of Kerala in the title clash. Naro Hari Shrestha scored a hat-trick for West Bengal against the error prone team from the southern State. Surajit Hansda and Amit Chakraborty accounted for the other goals.

Maharashtra first defeated Andhra Pradesh 3-0 in the men’s Softball final to take on Chhattisgarh in the gold medal match, called the grand final. They then beat Chhattisgarh 1-0 to take gold. Earlier, Punjab expectedly emerged the women’s champions with a 6-2 conquest of Kerala 6-2 in the Grand Final. Kerala had beaten Chhattisgarh 2-1 to try and unseat Punjab.

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