SAG Swimming: Sajan, Sandeep steal the show on day two

The second day of the competitions saw India finish the day with four of the seven gold medals. Sajan Prakash led a 1-2 finish for his team in the men’s 1500m freestyle before Sandeep Sejwal made it a grand double in the 100m breast-stroke.

India's Sajan Prakash after winning the 1500m Men's Freestyle at the 12th South Asian Games held in Guwahati.   -  K MURALI KUMAR

The Indian swimmers came up with an improved display on day two of the swimming event at the South Asian Games but were unable to complete a clean sweep of medals at the Dr. Zakir Hussian pool on Sunday.

The second day of the competitions saw India finish the day with four of the seven gold medals. Sajan Prakash led a 1-2 finish for his team in the men’s 1500m freestyle before Sandeep Sejwal made it a grand double in the 100m breast-stroke, adding to his Saturday tally.

Young M. Arvind and Sayani Ghosh were the other title winners for the home team during the day, winning the men’s 200m backstroke and the women’s 400m individual medley respectively. Sri Lankan Matthew Abeysinghe proved, yet again, to be the man to beat as he won the fastest swimmer of the meet tag with a brilliant show in the men’s 50m freestyle, pushing record-holder and fancied Virdhawal Khade to second spot.

Sri Lanka’s second gold medal of the day came through Kimiko Raheem who won the women’s 200m back-stroke while Mahfuza Khatun won Bangladesh’s first ever gold medal in swimming by taking the pole position in the women’s 100m breast-stroke.

Sajan Prakash, the Kerala-born swimmer who is currently based in Bengaluru, was hardly challenged in the gruelling 30-lap race before returning home in style and setting a new Games record en route. Along with the other Indian entrant Saurabh Sangvekar, Sajan went about nonchalantly through the initial 28 laps before accelerating to gain the upper hand from his compatriot and to finish in 15:55.34. Saurabh came in second at 16:13.15 ahead of Mahifur Rahman (Bangladesh).

It was again a one-horse race in the 100m breast-stroke as Sandeep Sejwal took an early lead and then improved upon his Dhaka 2010 timing of 1:05.01 to an impressive 1:03.14 for his second gold medal of the Games. Compatriot Puneet Rana added the silver medal touching in at 1:03.80, pushing Kiran Jaisinghe (Sri Lanka) to third.

The teenager M. Arvind too had it easy en route to his first major international gold medal as he was hardly troubled at any time during the course of the men’s 200m backstroke. Sayani Ghosh was the surprise package among the winning Indians as she beat favourite Shradda Sudhir in the women’s 400m individual medley. Sayani finished with a new Games record of 5:14.51.

A major disappointment for the home team, besides the setback suffered by Khade, came in the women’s 200m backstroke as Maana Patel failed to live up to her reputation before being forced to finish second behind Kimiko Raheem. The two had gone through the first 100m almost toe to toe and it was a fumbled turn into the home stretch that left the Indian behind.

The results

Men: 50m freestyle: 1. Matthew Abeysinghe (SL), 23.33s – NGR; OR – 23.75, 2. Veerdhawal Khade (Ind), 23:54s, 3. Mahfizur Rahman (Ban), 23:95s.

1500m freestyle: 1. Sajan Prakash (Ind), 15:55.34 – NGR; OR – 16:17.58, 2. Saurabh Sangvekar (Ind), 16:13.15, 3. Mahfizur Rahman (Ban), 17:11.95.

200m backstroke: 1. M. Arvind (Ind), 2:08.00, 2. Kavindra Nugaweh (SL), 2:14.94, 3. Naveed Hussain (Pak), 2:19.57.

100m breast-stroke: 1. Sandeep Sejwal (Ind), 1:03.14 – NGR; OR – 1:05.01, 2. Puneet Rana (Ind), 1:03.80, 3. Kiran Jaisinghe (SL), 1:05.86.

Women: 200m backstroke: 1. Kimiko Raheem (SL), 2:18.09 – NGR; OR – 2:31.49, 2. Maana Patel (Ind), 2:22.06, 3. Gaurika Singh (Nep), 2:26.93.

100m breast-stroke: 1. Mahifuza Khatun (Ban), 1:17.86, 2. Catherine Swan (Pak), 1:18.58, 3. Chahat Arora (Ind), 1:18.77.

400m individual medley: 1. Sayani Ghosh (Ind), 5:14.51 – NGR; OR – 5:16.21, 2. Shradda Sudhir (Ind), 5:23.32, 3. J.U.I. Silva (SL), 5:44.20.