The 36th National Games came to a poignant end here at the Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, with Services Sports Control Board, Kerala’s Sajan Prakash and Karnataka’s Hashika Ramchandra walking away with the top honours.
Maharashtra bagged the Indian Olympic Association’s Best State trophy for finishing second in the medals tally with the most medals amongst States and UTs.
The 29-year-old Sajan Prakash won eight medals, with five individual gold, two silver and a bronze, to pip Srihari Nataraj who also claimed eight medals in all, with six gold including two in relays. It is the second time that India’s most experienced swimmer has bagged the coveted trophy after his success in the 2015 National Games in Kerala.
Hashika Ramachandra, just 14 years of age, won six gold in her collection of seven medals on National Games debut. She became the first Karnataka athlete in 23 years to bag this coveted trophy. Nisha Millet was the last winner from Karnataka, having swept medals in the 1999 National Games in Imphal.
Sajan was part of one of the most sensational 800m Freestyle races in India, where he claimed bronze ahead of younger swimmers like Anesh S Gowda and Vedaant Madhavan. He was glowing in his praise of the Florida-based swimmers Advait Page (Madhya Pradesh) and Aryan Nehra (Gujarat) and felt happy to be in the mix till the final few metres.
Services bag five boxing gold
Meanwhile, table toppers Services completed their National Games campaign on a high note, winning five gold medals in the Boxing ring at the Mahatma Mandir complex on Wednesday.
While Services sent out five winners from among six Boxing finalists, Haryana were left disappointed as only four of their eight pugilists on view today emerged winners.
With Nikhil Dubey, the lone Maharashtra finalist, claiming an emotional 75kg class gold, the Western Indian state was able to take the second spot on the Medal Table behind Services, who finished with 61 gold, 35 silver and 32 bronze medals.
Nikhil Dubey realised his late coach Dhananjay Tiwary’s dreams by pocketing the yellow metal with a 5-0 victory over lesser-known Malsawmitluanga of Mizoram in the men’s middleweight final. Coach Tiwary died in a road accident on Tuesday when on his way to watch his ward in the finals.
At the Mahatma Mandir here, the Services juggernaut was well served by two-time Commonwealth Games medallist, Mohammed Hussamuddin (57kg), Etash Khan Muhammed (60kg), Akash (67kg), Sanjeet (92kg) and Narender (+92kg) in winning five Boxing gold medals on the final day of the National Games.
The featherweight Hussamuddin banked on brilliant counter punches and combinations to beat Haryana’s Sachin Siwach 3-1 and lay his hands on the gold. The Telangana native cleverly defended himself from the World Youth champion’s aggression before seizing the momentum with clean punches.
Reigning Asian champion Sanjeet, determined to make his National Games debut a successful one after a rather unlucky Commonwealth Games campaign, forced the referee to give his State-mate Naveen (Haryana) a standing count of eight before clinching the bout with authority.
Earlier, National championship silver medallists Ankit Sharma (51kg) and Minakshi (52kg) boosted Haryana’s gold haul by winning the men and women’s flyweight finals respectively.
Ankit gained a unanimous verdict over Himachal Pradesh’s Avinash Chandel while Minakshi, a 2018 Khelo India gold medallist, produced a similar verdict against Uttarakhand’s Shobha Kohli with clean punches to unsettle an opponent who was over-reliant on counter-attack.
Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (Assam) got her jabs and combination punches working to perfection against Haryana’s Saweety Boora to cap her National Games debut with a memorable gold. Haryana and Assam sent out two winners each while Punjab’s Simranjeet Kaur took a redeeming gold in the 60kg category.
Lovlina Borgohain was happy with the switch to the 75kg division after the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. “I wanted to test myself in the new weight category. It isn’t easy to come back after an injury but I pushed myself to be match ready for the Asian Championships,” an elated Lovlina said.
Earlier, former Asian Youth champion Ankushita Boro got Assam’s campaign to a flying start by clinching the gold medal in a one-sided women’s 66kg welterweight final against fellow Northeast boxer Alena Thounaojam (Manipur). Ankushita was all class against her unheralded opponent.
After a forgettable show at the Tokyo Games, Simranjit Kaur (Punjab) did well to win gold with a clinical 4-0 victory in the women’s lightweight final over Haryana’s Jasmine Lamboria, who looked a pale shadow of herself in the opening round. Jaismine, a Commonwealth Games bronze winner, tried to regain lost ground but it was too little too late.
In the women’s 57kg featherweight bout, Punjab’s Mandeep Kaur paid the price for starting defensively as Haryana’s Poonam gave herself a clear lead after the first two rounds to pocket the contest by a 4-1 margin.
Kerala complete grand double in volleyball on final day
In Bhavnagar, Kerala completed a Volleyball double, winning both the men and women gold medals.
Kerala men defeated Tamil Nadu 25-23, 28-26, 27-25 to clinch the last gold medal on offer in the Games.
Earlier, Kerala won the women’s Volleyball gold with a straight set victory over West Bengal. The second set was thrilling as it was played over several extra points before Kerala closed it at 36-34.
Medal Tally top 10
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The results (finals)
51kg class: Ankit Sharma (Haryana) beat Avinash Chandel (Himachal Pradesh) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Sparsh Kumar (Punjab) and Karan Rupini (Tripura).
57kg class: Mohammed Hussamuddin (Services) beat Sachin (Haryana) on points (3-1). Bronze medals: Lallawmawma (Mizoram) and Aasifali Asgarali Saiyed (Gujarat).
60kg class: Muhammed Etash Khan (Services) beat Vijay Kumar (Punjab) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Myson Moirangthem (Manipur) and Pawan Gurung (Uttarakhand).
67kg class: Akash (Services) beat Sagar (Haryana) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Chander Mohan (Himachal Pradesh) and Shiva Thapa (Assam).
75kg class: Nikhil Dubey (Maharashtra) beat Malsawmitluanga (Mizoram) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Sumit (Services) and Pushpender Rathee (Goa).
80kg class: Vinit (Haryana) beat Sachin Kumar (Services) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Sumit Poonia (Rajasthan) and Harpreet (Chandigarh).
92kg class: Sanjeet (Services) beat Naveen Kumar (Rajasthan) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Kanwarpreet Singh (Punjab) and Neeraj Kumar (Rajasthan).
+92kg class: Narender (Services) beat Sawan Gill (Chandigarh) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Reynold Joseph (Maharashtra) and Mohit (Haryana).
52kg class: Minakshi (Haryana) beat Shobha Kohli (Uttarakhand) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Rashi Sharma (Uttar Pradesh) and Anjali Sharma (Madhya Pradesh).
57kg class: Poonam (Haryana) beat Mandeep Kaur (Punjab) on points (4-1); Bronze medals: Jamuna Boro (Assam) and Savita (Chandigarh).
60kg class: Simranjit Kaur (Punjab) beat Jaismine (Haryana) on points (4-0). Bronze medals: Konthoujam Pravish Chanu (Manipur) and Pwilao Basumatary (Assam).
66kg class: Ankushita Boro (Assam) beat Alena Thounaojam (Manipur), referee stopped contest in second round; Bronze medals: Lalita (Rajasthan) and Komalpreet Kaur (Punjab).
75kg class: Lovlina Borgohain (Assam) beat Saweety Boora (Haryana) on points (5-0); Bronze medals: Ruchita Rajput (Gujarat) and Shretima Thakur (Himachal Pradesh).
Men: Kerala bt Tamil Nadu 25-23, 28-26, 27-25
Bronze medal play-off: Haryana beat Gujarat 25-12, 25-22, 22-25, 21-15, 15-11.
Women: Kerala beat West Bengal 25-22, 36-34, 25-19.
Bronze medal play-off: Rajasthan beat Himachal Pradesh 25-17, 25-14, 25-12.