Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nayanmoni Saikia of Assam grabbed the spotlight on the opening day of the Lawn Bowls competition in the National Games, comfortably winning two singles matches and one team game here on Wednesday.
Saikia started the day with an emphatic 23-0 victory over Gujarat’s Vaishali Makvana in a Group A contest and ended it with a 21-10 win over Beena Shah of West Bengal.
She also joined her Assam teammates to post a 33-3 verdict against Manipur in the Fours competition at the Kensville Golf and Country Club near here.
A member of the Indian Fours team which made history in Birmingham CWG last month, Saikia is delighted that her sport is drawing a lot of attention.
“The gold medal provided the impetus for Lawn Bowls. But we have to make sure that our win wasn’t a fluke. We have to keep performing to sustain its popularity,” said Nayanmoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Assam, after a highly successful day.
“The National Games is getting bigger and better. Naturally, there will be pressure on every athlete. But it is up to the senior players to leave a mark and show the way,” said the 34-year-old from Golaghat.
Meanwhile, in Bhavnagar, Gujarat men’s Netball team made it to the semifinals with a 57-33 victory over Punjab in their last group A contest. Needing a win to avoid a three-way tie with Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat stuck to their task and kept themselves well ahead in the match.
Gujarat will meet the winners of Group B while Group A toppers Haryana will play the other semifinal. Telangana and Delhi took the two Group B places in the last four stage. Telangana and Delhi both finished with two wins and a draw from their three matches each.
At the EKA TransStadia Stadium in Ahmedabad, Delhi and West Bengal became the first men’s teams to claim Rugby 7s semifinal berths, both beating Punjab and Odisha in their group B matches.
Delhi recorded a 26-0 win against Punjab and beat Odisha 14-10 while Bengal posted a 24-7 victory over Odisha and backed it up with a 22-12 win over Punjab.
In other matches, Haryana beat Gujarat 28-0 and Services held Maharashtra 14-14 in men’s Group A. Bihar had it easy against the hosts 44-0 while Maharashtra defeated Delhi 19-10 in a tough battle in women’s Group A.
West Bengal and Odisha started Group B with victories over Chandigarh 29-5 and Kerala 64-0 in women’s Group B.