SAG swimming: Veerdhawal, Shraddha sparkle

Veerdhawal Khade’s gold in the 50m butterfly was also special for the country as it marked the 1000th gold medal for India in the Games.

Veerdhawal Khade... men's 50m butterfly gold.   -  PTI

Shraddha Sudhir won the women's 200m individual medley.   -  K. Murali Kumar

It proved to be quite a contrast as Shraddha Sudhir and Veerdhawal Khade came through with the women’s 200m individual medley and men’s 50m butterfly gold medals respectively on the concluding day of the swimming competitions in the 12th South Asian Games at the Dr. Zakir Hussain pool, Sarasujai, on Wednesday.

The day also marked a great showing by the Sri Lankan swimmers, particularly Matthew Abeysinghe and Kimiko Raheem, both rounding off their campaign by winning their fifth individual gold medals in the meet.

On an Indian perspective, the triumphs of Shraddha and Khade were of much value as the young Bengaluru girl won her first international title this evening. Khade proved that he still had the hunger in him to excel, recovering well from the surprising loss that he suffered at the hands of Abeysinghe in the 50m freestyle final.

Khade’s gold in the 50m butterfly which he won quite comfortably ahead of team-mate Anshul Kothari with a new Games record to boot was also special for the country as it marked the 1000th gold medal for India in the Games.

Off to a sound start, the Maharashtra swimmer was always in control of the race as he returned in 24.54s and put to shade the existing meet mark of 25.20s in style.

Shraddha, the favourite in the 400m individual medley was beaten to the silver by compatriot Sayani Ghosh on the second day. The Karnataka teenager, however, took no chances against the rest of the field in the 200m IM today, as she registered her maiden win in an international competition.

Of course, Sayani was absent from the race. But still Gaurika Singh (Nepal) looked capable of providing Shraddha with a tough fight, at least during the initial part of the four-lapper. But Shraddha surged ahead after the initial leg and stayed right ahead over her rivals, negotiating all the four laps and styles with commendable technical superiority. She was timed at 2.31.18, a good two seconds and more ahead of Gaurika, as she exulted in joy.

Jyotsna Pansare was the other Indian individual gold medal winner of the day, taking the 50m butterfly title with an easy win over team-mate Avantika Chavan and Sri Lankan Hiruni Perera.

Medal milestone

India, the overall champion in the 11 previous editions of the South Asian Games, on Wednesday crossed a historic milestone of winning its 1000th gold medal in the Games.

The host, which entered the fortnight-long competition, now in progress here and in Shillong, with a tally of 900 gold medals crossed the landmark through swimmer Veerdhawal Khade as he won the men’s 50m butterfly title.

India had won 44 gold medals in the inaugural edition of the Games in Kathmandu in 1984 followed by 61 (Dhaka 1985), 91 (Kolkata 1987), 61 (Islamabad 1989), 64 (Colombo 1991), 60 (Dhaka 1993), 106 (Chennai 106), 102 (Kathmandu 1999), 103 (Islamabad 2004), 118 (Colombo 2006) and 90 (Dhaka 2010).

The home team is also likely to overhaul its best ever tally of 118-59-37 achieved in Colombo 2006 with five days remaining for the conclusion of the current edition.

The results:

Men: 100m freestyle: 1. Matthew Abeysinghe (SL), 51.23s – NGR; OR - 52.48s, 2. K.T. Cherantha De Silva (SL), 52.11s, 3. Md Mahfizur Rahman (Ban), 52.34s.

50m butterfly: 1. Veerdhawal Khade (Ind), 24.54s – NGR; OR – 25.20s, 2. Anshul Kothari (Ind), 25.24s, 3. KT Cherantha De Silva (SL), 25.45.

200m individual medley: 1. Matthew Abeysinghe (SL), 2:09.63 – NGR OR - 2:11.22, 2. Sanu Debnath (Ind), 2:11.65, 3. Md Juwel Ahmed (Ban), 2:15.05.

4x100m medley relay: 1. India, 3:49.78 – NGR; OR - 3:58.76, 2. Sri Lanka, 3:58.11, 3. Bangladesh, 4:01.03.

Women: 100m freestyle:1. Kimiko Raheem (SL), 57.20s – NGR; OR - 1:00.40, 2. Machiko Raheem (SL), 59.64s, 3. Shivani Kataria (Ind), 1:00.14.

50m butterfly: 1. Jyotsna Pansare (Ind), 29.19s, 2. Avantika Chavan (Ind), 29.67s, 3. KA Hiruni Perera (SL), 30.21s.

200m individual medley: Shraddha Sudhir (Ind), 2:31.18, 2. Gaurika Singh (Nep), 2:33.26, 3. Uthama Silva (SL), 2:40.07.

4x100m medley relay: 1. Sri Lanka , 4:27.75 – NGR; OR- 4:40.42, 2. India (4:30.91), 3. Pakistan (4:48.01).

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