Khelo India: Nataraj shines as Maharashtra extend lead in medals tally

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Pune, Jan 15 (IANS) Srihari Nataraj emerged as the most prolific gold medal winner, as he added two more on Tuesday, to reach a total of seven at the Khelo India Youth Games.

With S.P. Likith picking up five, the Karnataka duo were the most decorated gold medallists of the Games. Karnataka won a total of 21 swimming gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze for 51, while Delhi had 19 gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze for 48 and Maharashtra 18 gold, 15 silver and 10 bronze.

Yet the distribution was such that Maharashtra in Under-21 and Delhi in Under-17 were the winners of the combined team championships at the Balewadi Complex swimming pool.

In the overall tally, Maharashtra stayed way ahead of the pack with 64 gold, 51 silver and 62 bronze for a total of 177, while Delhi trailed in second place at 47 gold, 31 silver and 43 bronze and a total of 121. Haryana are third with 37 gold, 35 silver and 38 bronze for a total of 110.

Nataraj was a comfortable winner in both 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle. He faced no challenge in winning the 50m backstroke (Boys U-21) in 26.16 seconds with Goa’s Xavier D’Souza (26.74) more than half a second behind him. Haryana’s Vedant Seth (27.14) was third.

Nataraj won his second individual gold of the day in the 100m freestyle clocking 52.37 seconds. He again finished way ahead of D’Souza (53.15) and Maharashtra’s Aaron Fernandes (54.11).

Delhi’s Swadesh Mondal, who started the day with four gold medals already in his bag, added a fifth by winning the 200m breaststroke in the Boys U-17 event in 2:26.91.

On the last day of the competition, Delhi bagged four of the 13 gold at stake while Karnataka and Maharashtra clinched three and two gold, respectively.

In shooting, Punjab’s Patiala-based 16-year-old Sartaj Singh, who travels twice a week to Chandigarh for training, hung on to a slender lead to beat a charge by National Junior Champion Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar (Madhya Pradesh) and won the gold medal in the 50m 3-position rifle competition.

Telangana’s 13-year-old Esha Singh and Maharashtra’s Harshada Nithave won the girls under-17 and under-21 10m air pistol gold medals respectively. Esha Singh was unstoppable in the final, shooting 241.3 points, including 14 10s, despite a niggle in the back, which saw her finish third in qualification.

Harshada Nithave, who won the Asian youth bronze medal in 2015, had also finished third in qualification today but asserted her intention from the start of the under-21 final and won the gold.

Maharashtra’s Snehal Bhongale and Ashwini Malage gave their team two more gold medals as the weightlifting competition came to an end on Tuesday.

Bhongale grabbed the gold in 87kg, while Malage won the Over-87kg, as the host state finished the competition with a total of nine gold medals, with Punjab had five and Tamil Nadu four.

The final day’s other two gold were won by Tamil Nadu and Punjab but in contrasting fashion. B. Mukesh in 109kg won a tight contest, while Punjab’s Tejpal Singh Sandhu won the Over-109kg gold by a massive 20kg margin.

It brought an end to a competition that produced a massive number of records. KIYG 2019 saw a number of records being set across different categories, 26 in the U-21s with woman power ruling this category. Fourteen records were created by girls and 12 by the boys. In the U-17s, boys won the race with 26 records against six by the girls. That brought the total number of records to 58.

Maharashtra won nine gold in weightlifting, while Punjab with five and Tamil Nadu with four were behind them,

Meanwhile, Odisha thwarted Haryana from completing a hockey double as they beat them 4-2 in the Boys Under-21 hockey final of the Khelo India Youth Games in a penalty-shootout at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. Punjab edged Uttar Pradesh also in penalties for bronze.

On Monday, Haryana had beaten Punjab for the Boys Under-17 gold medal.

In a pulsating Under-21 final, Odisha and Haryana were evenly matched and put two goals each past the other in open play, but could not decide the issue, for which penalties were needed.

In football, Punjab staged a fine recovery to down Goa 2-1 to maintain an all-win record, even as both teams made it to the semi-finals from Pool B of the boys U-21 football competition.

The semi-finals will see Maharashtra meet Punjab while Karnataka take on Kerala in Boys Under 17, even as Punjab meet Kerala and Goa clash with Mizoram in Boys Under 21. In Girls Under-17, it will be Odisha v Manipur and Kerala v Jharkhand and in Girls Under-21 Maharashtra meet Tamil Nadu and Mizoram take on Manipur.

–IANS

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