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Indian swimmers reign

S.R. Suryanarayan

Memorable day for Sejwal, Fariha and Tejaswini


  • Sejwal won by a half-arm length
  • Rehan Poncha beaten to the second spot



    ANOTHER GOLD FOR INDIA: Surabhi Tipre swims to the women's 800m title on Sunday.

    COLOMBO: Though thunder rolled, dark clouds moved in and rains lashed to briefly interrupt the proceedings, there was no stopping the Indians in the swimming event of the South Asian Games on Sunday.

    The pick of the lot among the six Indian winners was the 17-year-old Delhi Stephen's College lad Sandeep Sejwal, who came from behind to win his first international gold (100m backstroke) in only his second meet.

    Sejwal, whose speciality is the breaststroke, showed on Sunday that he had a big heart too in making that last minute effort to push Bangladesh's Shajahan Ali to the second spot by a half-arm length.

    "I had given up hope of a gold after trailing," said the Indian, who was at least a body-length behind Ali as the competition reached the final 50 metres.

    Capitalising

    Sejwal had been told by teammates that the Bangladeshi had the tendency to drop speed in the dying stages and that was what the Indian capitalised on, amidst thunderous cheers all around.

    The rains came down in a sharp spell almost immediately but there was no taking away the sparkle off Sejwal's record effort. He clipped 0.20 seconds from the existing mark (1:07.93s) standing in the name of compatriot Puneet Rana since 2004.

    Tipre sets the trend

    Having grabbed six gold medals on Saturday, India started positively on Sunday. Surabi Tipre set the trend with a win in the 800m freestyle and Varun Divgikar made it two for the day with his 50m freestyle victory (23.97s) being just out of reach of Sebastian Xavier's 23.89 set in 1995 (Chennai).

    Fifteen-year-old Fariha Zaman then swam a record race in the 100m backstroke to get her maiden international gold medal, while Tejaswini did not lag behind and took the 200m IM gold with a record timing for her first international win.

    Rehan Poncha lost in the 200m backstroke to America-based Sri Lankan Andrew Abeysinghe. The cheers could not have been louder for a winner.

    The results:

    Men: 50m freestyle: 1. Varun Divgikar (Ind) 23.97s, 2. Daniel Lee (SL) 25.07, 3. Najrul Islam (Ban) 25.41; 100m backstroke: 1. Sandeep Sejwal (Ind) 1:07.73 (NR, Old: 1:07.93, Puneet Rana (Ind) 2004), 2. Shajahan Ali (Ban) 1:08.08, 3. Md Niaz Ali (Ban) 1:10.34; 200m backstroke: 1. Andrew Abeysinghe (SL) 2:07.97, 2. Rehan Poncha (Ind) 2:11.33, 3. Rohit Havaldar (Ind) 2:13.40.

    Women: 800m freestyle: 1. Surabhi Tipre (Ind) 9:39.60s, 2. Pooja Alva (Ind) 9:41.92, 3. Imara Fahi (SL) 10:21.95; 100m backstroke: 1. Fariha Zaman (Ind) 1:09.05 (NR, Old: 1:10.16, Sumi Cyriac (Ind) 2004), 2. Kiran Khan (Pak) 1:09.76, 3. Kishpira Mahajan (Ind) 1:11.79; 200m IM: 1.Tejaswini (Ind) 2:28.78 (NR, Old: 2:29.01, Richa Mishra (Ind), 2004), 2. Mayumi Raheem (SL) 2:30.98, 3. Rida Sabahat (Pak) 2:51.18; 4x100m freestyle: 1. India (Arpana, Neeraja, Parita, Lekha) 4:08.72, 2. Sri Lanka 3. Pakistan.

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