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Injury pushes Rai to 2nd spot
- Afro-Asian Games l Two silvers, one bronze for Indian shooters

Hyderabad: Injuries continue to haunt the Indians in weightlifting as Satheesha Rai missed gold by a whisker in a body weight decision after he pulled out of Round III of the 77 kg men’s competition at the Afro-Asian Games on Monday.

Alabi Dare of Nigeria and Rai were tied at 322.5 when Rai had to pull out as his knee injury aggravated. The African, whose body weighed 75.25 kg against 76 of the host, claimed gold while Ali Eshtiwi Mohammed of Libya claimed bronze with a total lift of 302 kg.

The Nigerian aggregated 137.5 in snatch and 185 kg in clean and jerk while Rai’s tally was a result of 145 in snatch and 177.5 in clean and jerk.

Rai stood ahead in the bunch of five lifters in the snatch with 145 kg and was very fluent in lifting 172 kg in the first round of the clean and jerk. After a flawless effort of 177.5 kg in the second round, Rai coiled in pain and was taken away by attending medicos into the retiring rooms.

Though a weight revision of 185 was announced, he did not make it as the coach Jaswinder Singh later said: “We did not want to risk him. He already had a knee injury and it would aggravate further. So we kept him out knowing fully well that we have to settle for a silver and the decision would swing in favour of the Nigerian on the body weight count.”

Twenty two-year-old Rai said: “I had severe pain in the second round and after the lift it shot up. I could not take any further chances.”

Dare was not very impressive in the snatch event with a best lift of 137.5 kg, which was the first round effort of Rai. The Indian improved it to 142.5 and 145 in the second and third rounds to lead the table.

Clean and jerk had seen tempers and stakes running high with the local crowd cheering Rai’s every single effort. He easily lifted 172 kg and sprained his knee after a good lift of 177.5.

Meanwhile, world champion Olga Dovogun of Kazakhstan recorded the magical score of 600/600 to win the women’s 50m sport rifle prone gold while Manavjit Singh Sandhu lost in the tie-shoot to settle for the silver in the men’s trap.

India failed to win their second gold medal after Gagan Narang’s effort in men’s 10m air rifle Sunday.

The hosts other two medal winners on the second day of the competition were Deepali Deshpande (silver, women’s 50m rifle prone) and Anwar Sultan (bronze, men’s trap).

But the closest of all contests was the nerve wracking men’s trap final where Sandhu settled for the silver losing to China’s Asian Games champion Li Hui 6-7 in the tie-shoot.

The Chinese domination continued in skeet shooting as Asian champion Jin Di won the gold with a tally of 148/150. He was followed by Qatar’s Masoud Hamad (142) and Alexei Ponokarev of Kazakhstan (139).

Jaspal Rana disappointed in the men’s 25m centre fire pistol finishing a poor sixth scoring 575.

The Indian said he could not concentrate because of “reflection” on his side mirror.

Two bronze from pool

India’s poor show in the pool continued as the home swimmers could lay hands on only two bronze medals in the aquatic events Monday.

The medals were won by the relay teams as physically-challenged South African Natalie Dutoit hogged limelight with her silver-winning effort in the 800m freestyle.

Natalie, whose leg was amputated from the knee following an accident in 2000, got a standing ovation when she finished her race in 9:17.92.

The event was dominated by Africans with Shrone Austine of Seychelles claiming the gold timing of 9:16.46 and South Africa’s Velia Janse Van R. took the bronze (9:19.74).

India’s bronze medals came in the two 4x100m relay free-style events.

The quartet of Shikha Tandon, Lisa Mahanta, Remya V. and Ambica Iyenger finished at 4:16.53. The gold went to the Korean team of Cho A. Ra, Park Kyung Hwa, Shin Bo Mi Kim and Mi Ryung.

The second bronze winning team — Senthil Kumar, Gairik Bardhan, Rajeev K. and Benoy Sebastian were quite slow but still got the medal as there were only three teams in fray.

They timed 4:7.89, almost 20 seconds slower than Japanese swimmers, who claimed the gold. South Africa won the silver medal.

Barring the two bronze medals, it was a disappointing day for the Indians.

Ambica Iyenger was the first failure when she finished sixth in a seven-field competition timing 9:55.59.

In other events, V. Sivaranjani despite getting a fine start, failed to win a medal while Mandar Divse and Akbar Ali Mir had very ordinary outing.

Algeria’s Mahrez Mebarekwas finished top in the 400m freestyle for men while the 200m individual medley gold went to Ouying Kunpeng of China.

Korea’s Lee Sun won the women’s 200m individual medley gold.

The day also turned out to be disappointing for Pakistan swimmers who failed to grab even a medal from the pool events.

Kiran Khan finished last in the women’s 200m individual medley while the Pakistan women’s free-style relay team took the last position.

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