CWG: Lifters Mirabai Chanu, Gururaja strike medals; gymnasts delight, women’s hockey team shocked (Roundup)

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Gold Coast, April 5 (IANS) Weightlifters S. Mirabai Chanu and Gururaja sparkled to deliver a gold and a silver, respectively, for India, while the table tennis teams and the badminton teams advanced to the knockouts but women’s hockey team shocking loss was a wake-up call on the opening day of the 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games here on Thursday.

Mirabai, the reigning world champion, delivered a power-packed performance in the women’s 48-kg category, leaving the competition far behind by setting Games and Commonwealth records in the snatch, clean and jerk as well as the total.

The Manipuri powerhouse registered 86 kg in the snatch and 110 kg in clean and jerk for a total of 196 kg. Such was her dominance that she net a record in each of her six lifts in the competition.

In the men’s 56-kg category, Gururaja had a best attempt of 111 kg in the snatch and 138 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 249 kg to bag the silver medal.

The performances of Mirabai and Gururaja meant that weightlifting as a discipline continues to be a main medal-provider for the country at the CWG.

Artistic gymnasts provide cheers to the country, with Yogeshwar Singh and Rakesh Patra qualifying for the individual all-round and rings finals respectively.

Yogeshwar finished 21st with 75.300 points. He secured 12.450 points in floor exercise, 12.750 in pommel horse, 12.350 in rings, 13.050 in vault, 12.300 in parallel bars and 12.400 in horizontal bar.

Rakesh topped the rings apparatus qualifying competition with a brilliant 13.950 points in the rings event. He got 5.600 points for his difficulty level and 8.350 points for execution.

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But the women’s hockey team 2-3 loss to lowly Wales was a difficult pill to swallow since it was the first time the Asian outfit has lost to the European side — which is placed 26th in the world rankings — in a major tournament.

Lisa Daley (7th minute) scored a field goal to hand Wales an early lead before Sian French (26th) converted a penalty stroke in the second quarter to double the advantage.

The Indians staged a strong comeback with a couple of goals in the third quarter from skipper Rani Rampal (34th) and Nikki Pradha. Wales clinched the issue in the 57th minute when Natasha Marke-Jones scored a field goal.

Among other disappointing performances, Indian cyclists failed to advance from three qualifying events — men’s Team Sprint, women’s Team Sprint and track 4,000 metre Team Pursuit.

In basketball, Cameroon made an astonishing comeback — recovering a 24-point deficit at a point of time — to outplay India 96-87 in men’s preliminary round Pool B, while Indian eves also suffered a loss 57-66 to Jamaica.

However, the day belonged to Mirabai and Gururaj. Their medals took India to the seventh spot in the medal standings, topped by England.

Mirabai obliterated the previous Games record of 175 kg set by Nigeria’s Augustina Nwaokolo at the 2010 edition by a considerable distance.

Her previous personal best was 194 kg, which she had set during her title winning run at the World Championships last year.

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Marie Hanitra of Mauritius finished a distant second with a total of 170 kg while Dinusha Gomes of Sri Lanka took bronze with 155 kg.

Chanu started off on a rousing note by breaking the existing Games record with a lift of 80 kg.

She went on to break the record two more times with successful attempts of 84 kg and 86 kg, the latter being her new personal best.

That gave her a massive lead of 10 kg over second placed Marie at the end of the snatch session.

The Indian star started the clean and jerk session in similar fashion, lifting 103 kg in her first attempt to take the lead straightaway.

Another successful lift of 107 kg consolidated her position at the top. The Manipuri went on to post a new personal best with 110 kg in her third and final attempt to close off a dominating performance.

Gururaja fell short of Azhar Ahmed of Malaysia, who won gold with a new CWG record of 261 kg.

Chaturanga Lakmal of Sri Lanka claimed bronze with a total of 248 kg. He managed 114 kg in the snatch and 134 kg in clean and jerk.

In TT team events, the men’s team defeated Trinidad and Tobago and Northern Ireland in Group 1, while the women’s team came out on top against Sri Lanka and Wales in Group 2.

The mixed badminton team followed the success of the TT teams as World No.2 Kidambi Srikanth and former World No.1 Saina Nehwal led the side to the quarter-finals after outclassing Sri Lanka and Pakistan with an identical 5-0 scorelines in Pool A matches.

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India will meet Scotland — who defeated Sri Lanka 3-0 — on Friday in a match which will decide the top-placed team in the pool.

Star boxer Manoj Kumar advanced to the round of 16 in men’s boxing 69 kilogram category after convincingly thrashing Osita Umeh of Nigeria 5-0 by unanimous verdict.

The squash team had a mixed day after Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal and Vikram Malhotra advanced to the round-of-16 while Saurav Ghoshal and Harinder Pal Sandhu suffered heartbreaking losses. Saurav, especially suffered a bitter loss. Ghoshal wrapped up the first two games comfortably 11-5, 11-7. But lost narrowly in the next two (8-11, 9-11). In the decider, it all boiled down to the last point and the Jamaican player held his nerves and went on to clinch the issue.

In swimming, Virdhawal Khade and Srihari Nataraj disappointed with eighth place finishes in the men’s 50 metre butterfly event and 100 metre backstroke event semi-final 2.

While Khade could not recover from a sedate start in lane 1 and finished last, clocking 24.50 seconds, Nataraj did not fare any better in lane 8, reacting to the gunshot at 0.70 seconds and finishing in 56.65 seconds.

India also had a mixed day in the lawn bowls competition.

–IANS

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