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Rehan Poncha, Richa Mishra the best

A. Vinod

Karnataka extends its reign; wins overall championship for 18th consecutive year

— Photo: S. Mahinsha

RICH HAUL: Rehan Poncha had an unbeaten run in the championship and finished with five gold medals while Richa Mishra tallied four gold medals and one silver.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Karnataka extended its unbeaten streak since 1991 to one more year as it completed its campaign on a glorious note at the LNCPE pool, Kariyavattom, on the concluding day of the 63rd National aquatics championships on Saturday.

The overall championship title was won by that State for a record 18th consecutive year with a tally of 318 points ahead of Maharashtra (176) and Police (124).

The final day’s programme was yet another exciting day as Mandar A. Divase (Police) brought home a new National record while Rehan Poncha (Karnataka), Sandeep Sejwal (Delhi) and Richa Mishra (Police) notched up new meet records in their respective events of the day.

Poncha, who won his fifth gold medal in an unbeaten run, and Mishra, who finished with four gold medals and one silver, were adjudged the best swimmers of the meet.

Fitting finale

In providing a fitting finale to the six-day event, Divase who had created a new National mark in the 800m freestyle on Tuesday, came up with another sizzling performance as he went on to win the 1500m freestyle title with ease. The 23-year-old BSF sub-inspector expectedly was on a zone all by himself as he cut down the challenge from the rest of the field effortlessly and charged himself to the finish of the 30-lap race in 16:06.64 and thereby erased the existing mark of 16:10.90 set by A.P.Gagan earlier this year.

Gagan, incidentally, was not in his wonted form this morning as he rather tamely followed Divase to land the second spot in a surprisingly slow time of 16:38.57.

Poncha, admittedly, had to put his best foot forward to remain unbeaten in the championships. The Karnataka swimmer, though, enjoying a slight lead at the end of the first lap of the 100m butterfly final was pushed to the hilt by Police’s Arjun Muralidharan through the 60-75m mark before Poncha touched in 55.17s for a new meet record. Arjun who was the lead performer in the morning heats was second at 55.37s, also bettering in the process the existing record of 56.08s.

Sejwal dominates

In contrast, Sandeep Sejwal was largely unchallenged as he recorded a new meet record in the 200m breaststroke final, finishing the race with a time of 2:18.85, as against his own existing mark of 2:19.51 set in Goa in 2007.

Among women, Mishra, undoubtedly, was the star performer of the day as she won her fourth gold medal by holding back the challenge from the rest in the 400m individual medley final and that with a new meet record to boot.

Mishra led through all the eight laps of the race before winning at 5:02.96, well within the old record of 5:04.84.

Tamil Nadu’s M. Raghavi and Karnataka’s young champion-in-the-making, Arhatha Magavi were the other gold medal winners of this section on Saturday.

It was the third individual gold of the meet for Magavi as she raced back home first in the 100m freestyle.

The Kerala Sports Minister, M. Vijayakumar, gave away the trophies.

The results (all finals):

Men: 1500m freestyle: 1. Mandar A. Divase (Pol) 16:06.64 [National Record; OR: 16:10.90], 2. A.P. Gagan (Kar), 16:38.57, 3. Merwyn Chen (Rly), 17:03.74. 200m breaststroke: 1. Sandeep Sejwal (Del), 2:18.85 [NMR; OR: 2:19.51], 2. Anoop Augustine (Rly), 2:29.37, 3.Rohith Kumar (Pol), 2:29.71. 100m butterfly: 1. Rehan Poncha (Kar), 55.17s, [NMR; OR: 56.08s], 2. Arjun Muralidharan (Pol), 55.37s, 3.Amar Muralidharan (Mah), 57.17s.

Team championship position: 1. Karnataka (161 points), 2. Railway (89), 3. Police (85).

Women: 100m freestyle: 1. Arhatha Magavi (Kar), 59.88s, 2. Talasha Prabha (Goa) & C. Shubha (Kar), 59.91s. 200m breaststroke: 1. M. Raghavi (TN), 2:50.70, 2. Poorva Shetye (Mah), 2:51.47, 3. Priyanka Priydarshini (Del), 2:58.31. 400m individual medley: 1. Richa Mishra (Pol), 5:02.96 [NMR; OR: 5:04.84], 2. Pooja R. Alva (Kar), 5: 18.87, 3. V. Tejaswini (Kar), 5:34.90.

Team championship position: 1. Karnataka (157), 2. Maharashtra (139), 3. Tamil Nadu (62).

Overall championship position: 1. Karnataka (318), 2. Maharashtra (176), 3. Police (124).

Waterpolo: Men (final): Railway bt Kerala 9-7. Losers’ final: Services bt Maharashtra 7-5. Women (final): Maharashtra bt Kerala 7-6. Losers’ final: Police bt Karnataka 7-5.

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