Railways dominate

While Western Railway won the A. P. Paulraj Trophy, defeating ONGC 68-56 in the final, Southern Railway lifted the Marcella Memorial Trophy for women.

The inaugural Jeppiaar all-India basketball tournament in Puducherry, which showcased the top teams in the country, was a success. Every encounter was a thriller of sorts, what with the opening match between Vijaya Bank and Indian Overseas Bank stretching to extra-time with the former winning by a solitary point (85-84). The pulsating contest set the tone and tenor of the six-team men’s competition where the major attraction was the Western Railway squad.

A powerhouse in the national scene for years, it wasn’t surprising that Western Railway won the A. P. Paulraj Trophy, defeating ONGC 68-56 in front of a huge Sunday evening crowd.

In fact, Western Railway booked its berth in the final with three successive victories and its defeat to Vijaya Bank in a rough and tumble match did not alter the team’s fortunes.

For Western Railway Viskesh Brigwan was outstanding throughout the tournament. He claimed the special prize (a Bajaj motorcycle) as the ‘Player of the Tournament.’ Yadwinder Singh was the team’s other star.

ONGC was the next best team on view and it entered the final after beating IOB in the last league encounter. Murali Krishnan and Sridhar stood out for ONGC.

The domination of the Railway teams in the tournament was pronounced. Southern Railway, boasting several National players in its ranks and led by Geethu Anna Jose, lifted the Marcella Memorial Trophy with a comfortable win over Chattisgarh 90-66.

Anna Jose scored 25 points in the final. Anju Lakra was prominent for the Chattisgarh team in the tournament. KSEB and Mumbai XI presented a strong challenge to the top two teams.

The credit for launching this all-India tournament should go to Regeena Wilson and her husband Marie Wilson, who are the directors of the Jeppiaar College of Engineering.

The Jeppiaar College is making efforts to start a basketball academy with a state-of-the-art infrastructure and is scouting for a coach from NBA.

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Damini dazzles

The 26th National sub-junior aquatic championship held in Panaji recently would long be remembered for an outstanding display by Damini K. Gowda of Karnataka, who left her supporters in joy and rivals in despair, as she smashed her way to five National meet records and picked up six gold medals. She was adjudged the ‘Best Swimmer’ of the meet.

Though Karnataka finished behind Maharashtra (17 gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze medals; 144 points) and Tamil Nadu, Damini’s splendid performance erased that disappointment.

The 10-year old prodigy from the Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre (Bangalore) has it in her to become a top notch international in a few years time, and her coach Bhushan Kumar attributes her success to her talent and dedication.

Damini’s National marks came in the 50m freestyle (32.01s), 100m freestyle (1:10.22s), 50m backstroke (36.25s), 50m butterfly (33.34s) and 4x50m freestyle relay (2:18.27s). She also won the 50m breast stroke gold in 40.80s, narrowly missing the record of 40.69s.

Damini, however, was unfortunate to be disqualified from the 200m individual medley final. She was disqualified for ‘Dolphin stroke’ in the breast stroke segment. It was a massive blow for Damini, coming as it did after she was all set for another record. She broke down and cried but Bhushan consoled his young ward and asked her to carry on and she did just that, breaking two more marks the next day.

Bhushan is convinced that Damini is the next big star to break into the National swimming horizon.

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IOB retains trophy

The annual P. John Memorial tournament — conducted by Nellai Friends — is an event the volleyball fraternity in Chennai eagerly looks forward to. The tournament is in memory of a self-less promoter of volleyball who was also a strong votary of kabaddi and basketball. However, John’s passion was volleyball and he ensured that the state-level tournament was elevated to an all-India competition.

Several sponsors have been associated with the cause supported by John to provide a platform for a minor sport such as volleyball. And for the last two years, Panimalar College of Engineering has been at the vanguard. The director of the college, C. Sakthi Kumar, is a huge supporter of the project that also includes an annual coaching camp. He also presented a new trophy for the tournament this year, which had a fair representation from the country. The tournament also had a Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) Youth team, coached by former India player and National coach, G. E. Sridharan.

Indian Overseas Bank, Chennai, retained the Daily Thanthi Trophy for men. In a lacklustre final, IOB outplayed VFI Youth team 25-18, 25-22, 25-17. IOB, which suffered a shock defeat against Southern Railway in the opening game, recovered to enter the final. The team was well served by Natarajan, who was proficient in spiking and mid-court play. While Ukkrapandian was outstanding in service and blocking, the best of the lot was the National star Naveen Raja Jacob. Southern Railway took the third place, beating BPCL 25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 25-21.

In the women’s section, Western Railway beat Southern Railway 25-19, 25-21, 18-25, 15-25, 15-11 to win the trophy. Dr. Sivanthi Club took the third place followed by Alphonsa College, Palai (Kerala).

Special prizes were awarded to the following: Setter: Kapil Dev (Southern Railway), Blocker: Vaishnav (VFI), Libero: Kanakaraj (VFI), Attacker: Natarajan (IOB), and All-rounder: Naveen Raja Jacob (IOB).

The Tournament Committee, headed by Mr. Tamizh Vendan of Customs and assisted in the technical conduct by former international Chitrapandian, deserves a word of praise for completing the schedule despite facing several problems like power failure and long drawn out matches stretching well past midnight.

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S. S. KUMAR

Sumeet triumphs

“The event has a legacy of attracting the largest number of participants from across the country. The scale is unmatched by any other junior National shuttle event,” said tournament referee V. Sudhakar.

A first-day turnout of over 1,000 kit-heaving children validated the referee’s claim. Bus-loads of hopefuls, parents in tow, were whittled down to a more manageable proportion over three days of qualifiers on 10 courts across the Nehru Indoor Stadium.

After copious consumption of rolls of shuttlecocks and draw sheets across 900-odd matches, the main draw progressed on expected lines. The Under-19 boys’ top seed, B. Sumeet Reddy, rallied to beat his second number K. Nanda Gopal in the final. In the girls’ U-19, third-seed N. Sikki Reddy romped home against Tanvi Lad in a concise final encounter.

Pratul Joshi (MP), the U-16 winner, took home the boys’ ‘Best Player’ award, while Sailee Rane and Gauri Ghate were declared joint ‘Best Players’ in the girls section.

Winding up, parents were seen swarming to the representative of a prominent badminton goods manufacturer. A portly woman in pink leggings enquired in a patronising tone: “I can’t thank you enough for the support, but my daughter’s shorts are too baggy… can she get one similar to what Venus Williams wears during practice?”

THE RESULTS

Final — Men: Western Railway 68 (Vivek Brigwan 27, Yadwinder Singh 12) beat ONGC 56 (Muralikrishnan 14, Sridhar 11).

Women: Southern Railway 90 (Anitha 27, Geethu Anna Jose 25) beat Chattisgarh 66 (Anju Lakra 23).

Final Positions — Men: 1. Western Railway (Prize money, Rs.1.25 lakhs), 2. ONGC

(Rs. 80,000), 3. IOB (Rs.40,000), 4. Army (Rs.30,000).

Women: 1.Southern Railway (Rs. 80,000), 2. Chattisgarh (Rs.60,000), 3. KSEB (Rs.30,000), 4. Mumbai (Rs. 20,000).

By S. Thyagarajan, Kalyan Ashok & Kunal Diwan