Saturday was a day of many firsts for India at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, paddler Manika Batra and boxer Mary Kom won India’s first gold medals in their respective disciplines. India won a total of 17 medals today, taking them past the 50-medal mark, and finishing the day with 59. The day’s medal haul began with boxing great Mary Kom winning gold in her first Commonwealth Games. She also became India’s first woman boxer to claim a Commonwealth Games gold. The 35-year-old five-time world champion and Olympic bronze-medallist claimed a unanimous verdict of 5-0 Northern Ireland’s Kristina O’Hara in the final.
“I am so glad to have made history again, it is a special feeling to win something that is a milestone medal. I am just so glad,” a beaming Mary Kom said after the victory.
“This medal and each one of my medals is special to me because I have worked equally hard for them. And I will continue to do so till the time my body is fit,” she added.
This was followed by shooter Sanjeev Rajput winning gold in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions. He smashed the Games record with a total score of 454.5. In qualification, the 37-year-old scored a total of 1180 (58x) to break Olympic medallist Gagan Narang’s qualification record of 1166.
The Indian boxing team enjoyed its best ever medal haul at the Commonwealth Games, with gold medals from Gaurav Solanki (52kg) and Vikas Krishan (75kg) adding up to the overall boxing medal tally of nine. Boxers Amit Panghal (49kg), Manish Kaushik (60kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg) settled for silver after losing closely-contested bouts.
“Best ever medal haul, how can I be not be be happy, I am quite happy. The bar has been set pretty high by this performance but it makes things easier for us going forward,” India’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI.
“Credit to the boxers for the way they fought, even those who lost gave fighting performances,” he added.
In wrestling, India picked up another four medals on day three of the competition. Wrestler Vinesh Phogat and Sumit Malik winning gold, while Sakshi Malik and Somveer settled for bronze. The wrestling contingent signed off from the Games with 12 medals overall — five gold, three silver and four bronze.
Olympic medallist Sakshi went out of the gold medal contention in the first round itself after losses to Canada’s Michelle Fazzari and Nigeria’s Aminat Adeniyi following a win over Cameroon’s Berthe Ngolle. she gathered herself after the setback to defeat New Zealand’s Tayla Ford 6-5 in a close bout to avoid going without a medal. The heartbreak of missing the gold left her in tears during the medal ceremony.
“I am so disappointed, I should have won a gold medal and I have to settle for a bronze. It will be another four years before I can make this right. I could not get what I expected of myself,” she told PTI, wiping away her tears.
“I had a bad second bout because I thought I was winning till the last few seconds but then I lost and it destroyed my composure, I could never recover from that,” she said referring to her defeat at the hands of Canadian Michelle Fazzari, the final scoreline read 8-11. Asked what’s next for her in the calendar, Sakshi said, “Next for me is the Asian Games and I will prepare hard for it.”
In badminton, shuttlers PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will fight for gold in the women’s singles event. The 22-year-old Olympic silver medallist Sindhu, who had missed the mixed team competition due to an ankle sprain, knocked out defending champion Michelle Li 21-18 21-8 in just 26 minutes while former World No. 1 Saina had to dig deep to struggle past 2014 silver medallist Kristy Gilmour 21-14 18-21 21-17 in 68 minutes. Newly-crowned World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth also progressed to the final of the men’s singles after defeating 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph of England 21-10 21-17 in little over half an hour. However, three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei prevented an all-Indian men’s singles clash by getting the better of H S Prannoy 21-16 9-21 21-14 in the other semifinal.
The day’s biggest dissapointment came from the field when botht the men’s and women’s hockey teams finished without a medal at the Commonwealth Games as they struggled to get past their English opposition. The men’s team lost 2-1 while the women’s side were trounced 6-0 in their respective bronze medal matches.
With PTI inputs