SAG swimming: Sandeep Sejwal completes a grand treble

Sandeep Sejwal (India) was the cynosure of all eyes for the third day running at the Dr. Zakir Hussain swimming pool, in Sarasujai.

Swimmer Sandeep Sejwal with his Gold medal.   -  PTI

Sandeep Sejwal (India) was the cynosure of all eyes for the third day running at the Dr. Zakir Hussain swimming pool, Sarasujai, on Monday.

The 27-year-old from Delhi, who had picked a double in the men’s breaststroke 200m and 100m over the last two days, proved unbeatable once again as he picked up his third gold medal of the 12th South Asian Games. The day was also marked by a good showing by P.S. Madhu, who led India to 1-2 in the men’s 100m backstroke and V. Malavika, an easy winner with a new record timing in the women’s 800m freestyle.

Sri Lanka picked up three of the four remaining titles decided this evening, while Bangladesh secured the remaining one through Mahfuza Khatun, who took the top spot in the women’s 50m breaststroke — her second in as many days. Among the winning Lankans it was Komiko Raheem who stood out, winning two gold medals within the space of a little over an hour — the women’s 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle, the latter at the expense of her elder sister, Machiko.

Sri Lankan Matthew Abeysinghe had a day of mixed fortunes. He swam away with his fifth gold medal of the meet by touching ahead of Indian Sanu Debnath in the 400m individual medley but later found his glorious run being stopped abruptly as he finished fourth in the 100m backstroke final.

The bearded Sejwal had no such worries as he went through a start-to-finish lead in the one-lapper. He might have been a wee bit slow getting off the blocks but was into the lead straightaway as he stroked strongly ahead of the field. He stayed right on top and finished with an impressive new record time of 28.79s. Puneet Rana picked up his second silver medal as he touched the wall at 29.11 pushing Md. Shajahan Ali to the third spot.

The Thiruvananthapuram-born Madhu didn't seem bothered to have Lankan Abeysinghe to his right in the 100m backstroke final. He took off with the gong and his hegemony was visible right away when the swimmers resurfaced, powerfully stroking through the rest of the way to return home with a superb timing of 57.94s. Sethu Manickavel made it another Indian 1-2, bagging silver in 59.47s even as Syed Muhammad (Pakistan) pushed Abeysinghe outside the medal bracket.

In the women’s section, Malavika was the only Indian to get to the top of the podium during a day in which the host country was left without even a single medal in one of the four events. The 17-year-old was well in control through the long race and the ease with which she got home was well portrayed by the fact that Malavika lapped all but one of the five swimmers in the field.

The one to escape such a shame was Ishani Senanayake who, however, was to finish only at 9:48.62 compared to the new meet record timing of 9.19.48 returned by the victorious Bengaluru girl.

The race also was notable for the bronze won by Aminath Shajan of Maldives, the first medal to be won by the country at the South Asian Games.

The results

Men: 100m backstroke: 1. P. S. Madhu (Ind), 57.94s – NGR; OR – 58.98s, 2. Sethu Manickavel (Ind), 59.47s, 3. Syed Muhammad (Pak), 1:01.04. 50m breaststroke: 1. Sandeep Sejwal (Ind), 28.79s – NGR; OR – 29.17s, 2. Puneet Rana (Ind), 29.11s, 3. Md. Shajahan Ali (Ban), 30.41s. 400m individual medley: 1. Matthew Abeysinghe (SL), 4:40.27, 2. Sanu Debnath (Ind), 4:40.85, 3. Md. Juwel Ahmed (Ban), 4:52.50.

Women: 50m freestyle: 1. Komiko Raheem (SL), 26.49s – NGR; OR – 27.70s, 2. Machoko Raheem (SL), 27.40s, 3. Maana Patel (Ind), 27.44s. 800m freestyle: 1. V. Malavika (Ind), 9:19.48 – NGR; OR – 9:31.96, 2. Ishani Senanayake (SL), 9:48.62, 3. Aminath Shajan (Mal), 10:41.41. 100m backstroke: 1. Kimiko Raheem (SL), 1:03.78 – NGR; OR – 1:06.06, 2. Maana Patel (Ind), 1:06.00, 3. Gaurika Singh (Nep), 1:07.31. 50m breaststroke: 1. Mahfuza Khatun (Ban), 38.44s – NGR; OR – 34.97, 2. Hasanthi Nugawela (SL), 35.69s, 3. Ramudi Samarakoon (SL), 35.99s.