Ahmedabad: Pole-vaulter Rosy Meena Paulraj (Tamil Nadu) scaled new heights to share the spotlight with weightlifter and state-mate N Ajith, both rewriting National records in the 36th National Games in Gandhinagar on Saturday.
Rosy Meena Paulraj, 24, who got into a good rhythm, was able to improve her personal best from 4.00m to 4.20m to break VS Surekha’s National as well as National Games records set in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Ajith broke the National Record in the Clean and Jerk with a lift of 174kg to push National Games record efforts by track and field athletes into the shade.
Long-jumper Jeswin Aldrin (Tamil Nadu) was the biggest winner on the second day of track and field competition at IIT Gandhinagar. He first claimed the National Games record when he leapt to 8.21m effort on his third try. Even as Commonwealth Games medal winner M Sreeshankar passed his last four attempts, Jeswin Aldrin improved to 8.26m on his last attempt.
Shot-putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor (Punjab) and 400m runner Muhammed Ajmal (Kerala) also rewrote National marks but the day belonged to weightlifter Ajith.
An employee of the Railways, Ajith took the 73kg class gold medal with total lifts of 315kg. The 174kg effort in Clean and Jerk broke Achinta Sheuli’s National mark of 173kg. He held a 11kg advantage over the Services lifter after lifting 141kgs in his third attempt in Snatch. He opened Clean and Jerk with 165kg on his first attempt and raised the bar to 174kg for the milestone.
Representing Services, Achinta was a pale shadow of his own self. He started off with two No Lifts in Snatch before completing a lift of 130kg. He ended up with silver with a total of 295kg, preferring to skip his third attempt in Clean and Jerk. Kerala’s Devapreedhan B took the bronze medal with a total of 281kg.
Tajinder Pal Singh Toor, who did not make a single attempt in the World Athletics Championships in Oregon with a groin strain, made a memorable return to competition. He first equalled the National Games men’s Shot Put record with a 20.14m effort on his fourth try and capped that with a 20.75m heave on the final attempt.
There were three wonderful examples of athletes holding their nerves under pressure. Gujarat women’s tennis team retained the National Games gold by beating back a Maharashtra challenge. Ankita Raina and Vaidehee Choudari reeled off eight games in a row when trailing 2-4 in the opening set of the doubles rubber at the Riverside Sports Complex in Ahmedabad.
Ankita first beat Rutuja Bhosale in a must-win second singles rubber. The experienced campaigner was unperturbed by the pressure and dropped just one game in the opening set. Rutuja Bhosale took a 3-2 lead in the second set by breaking her opponent’s serve but Ankita Raina held on to clinch the match in straight sets.
Telangana teenager Esha Singh lived up to her own expectations of producing a good show at the National Games when she stood out in a strong field to win the women’s 25m Pistol gold. She first topped qualifications with 584 points, one more than Olympian Manu Bhaker (Haryana). She needed to win a shoot-off against Vibhuti Bhatia (Haryana) after her Ranking Match.
Up against Rhythm Sangwan (Haryana), Abhidnya Ashok Patil (Maharashtra) and Manu Bhaker in the Medal Match, she scored 26 points to claim the title. Rhythm Sangwan took silver with 25 and Abhidnya Patil the bronze with 19 ahead of Manu Bhaker (10). “I’m over the moon. It is always special to win a gold in the National Games. It was a close affair and Rhythm was on my heels. I had to keep cool in the last two shots to win gold,” she said.
It was with a similar display of composure under pressure that Shaista Sharma (Delhi) hogged the limelight at the Kensville Golf and Country Club in Dholera near here. She scored 9 points in the final four ends of the Women’s Singles Lawn Bowls final to transform a 12-17 deficit into a 21-17 victory over Sarita Tirkey (Jharkhand).
Back in the track and field competition, Jyothi Yarraji (Andhra Pradesh) and Amlan Borgohain (Assam) who both train at the Odisha High-Performance Centre in Bhubaneswar, claimed the titles of the Fastest Woman and Fastest Man of the National Games. Jyothi won the women’s 100m in a star-studded field, clocking 11.51 seconds.
Archana Suseendran (Tamil Nadu) and Diandra Valladares (Maharashtra) flanked Jyothi Yarraji on the podium.
Amlan, who had pegged the National Games men’s 100m record at 10.28 seconds in the semifinals on Friday, was a tenth of a second slower in the final but he was still clear of the Tamil Nadu pair of VK Elakiyadasan and B Siva Kumar.
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