Boxers, shooters lead India to top
The boxers hardly broke a sweat to scoop all the seven gold medals up for grabs, while shooters ended their campaign with an outstanding tally of 25 gold medals to ensure that India's reign at the top remained unhindered in the 12th South Asian Games here on Monday.
On the penultimate day of competitions, the Indian contingent continued to be perched at the top with 289 medals (173 gold, 86 silver and 30 bronze). Sri Lanka were second on the table with 174 medals (25 gold, 59 silver and 90 bronze, followed by Pakistan (90 medals = 11 gold, 33 silver and 47 bronze).
Besides, the boxers and shooters' good show, the Indian women's football team also won the gold medal, defeating Nepal 4-0 in the summit clash. The boxers were the stars of the show in Shillong with all the 7 men in the final notching up mostly comprehensive victories.
Commonwealth Games silver-medallist L Devendro Singh (49kg) began India's gold rush when he thrashed Pakistan's Mohib Ulla at the SAI campus in North Eastern Hill University on the outskirts of the city.
The London Olympics quarterfinalist was adjudged the winner on a split decision of 2-1.
Next man in was 35-year-old former national champion Madan Lal (52kg) and he too prevailed over another Pakistani opponent in Mohammad Syed Asif to be adjudged 3-0 winner.
World No.2 and World Championships bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa (56kg) was the fan favourite of the day and he impressed the boisterous crowd to prevail over Sri Lankan W Ruwan Thilina. Against the aggressive Lankan who was aiming for head butts, Thapa had a defensive strategy to avoid his initial blows.
World no.6 Vikas Krishan (775kg) put up a brave front, fighting through flu to down Pakistan's Tanveer Ahmed. The Olympic medal prospect prevailed over his opponent with some feisty uppercuts and was adjudged 3-0 winner unanimously.
Another from the Indian boxing hub of Haryana, 20-year- old Dheeraj Rangi, who had secured a silver medal at the World Military Games in South Korea last year, defeated Pakistan's Ahmed Ali in the 60kg gold medal bout.
Experienced boxer Manoj Kumar, the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was also adjudged winner in an unanimous decision of 3-0 against Dinidu Saparamadu of Sri Lanka in the 64kg category.
Commonwealth Games medallist in Mandeep Jangra (69kg) survived a closely-fought contest against Afghanistan's Rahemi Alla Dad to win 3-0.
At the shooting range in Guwahati, Indian shooters made yet another clean sweep on the final day to sign off with a staggering 25 out of 26 gold medals on offer. Rio Olympics bound Gurpreet Singh shot gold in men's individual 25m rapid fire pistol with a total of 28 hits on target, while Shweta Singh grabbed another yellow metal in women's individual 10m air pistol event with a total score of 194.4 even though she was shooting with her spare gun at the Kahilipara Shooting Range here.
Another Olympics quota holder Heena Sidhu had to be content with the silver in the women's 10m air pistol event with a total score of 192.5, while 18-year-old Chandigarh shooter Yashaswini Singh Deswal took the bronze.
India also took a gold each in both the team events to sweep aide any competition from other countries in the discipline.
India gave away just one gold - to Bangladesh - in the discipline. The home shooters ended the competition with 25 gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze. Bangladesh are at a distant second with one gold, three silver and three bronze.
Gurpreet made up for his disappointing sixth-place finish in the 10m air pistol event on Saturday by winning the gold in 25m rapid fire pistol event on Monday. Bashir Ghulam Mustafa of Pakistan took the silver with 24 hits on target while another Indian Vijay Kumar, who had won a silver in this event in 2012 London Olympics, bagged the bronze.
In the women's 10m air pistol finals, there was tough competition among the three Indians, exchanging leads among three of them. For Shweta, this was the worst ever performance despite winning the gold as she had to shoot with a spare gun.