India’s next generation of athletes scripted history not once but twice in the space of 24 hours as weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga and shooter Manu Bhaker picked up the country’s maiden set of gold medals in the Youth Olympics in Beunos Aires on Tuesday.
The 15-year-old Lalrinnunga shattered the national record in the men’s 62kg category to claim the top honours and announce his arrival at the big stage. Bhaker, on the other hand, rediscovered the form that made her a sensation in the women’s 10m air pistol event.
Lalrinnunga, who is also a world youth silver-medallist, lifted a total of 274kg (124kg +150kg) to finish on top in the Argentine capital on Monday night, which was early Tuesday morning in India.
“I am feeling really happy that I won the gold medal here,” Lalrinnunga told PTI.
The 16-year-old Bhaker shot 236.5 to finish on top of the podium on Tuesday, making up for the heartbreak at the Asian Games in Indonesia and the World Championship where she could not live up to her billing.
“This is an important win for me. It will be a morale booster (after the Asian Games disappointment) as I look forward with an aim to bring home more laurels,” Bhaker said after winning the gold.
Mizo sensation Lalrinnunga, who will turn 16 on October 26, is the son of a former boxer, Lalneihtluanga, who has seven national-level gold medals to his credit.
Lalrinnunga was himself an aspiring boxer before he shifted to weightlifting on the advice of coaches and was picked up by the Army Sports Institute scouts in 2011 at the age of 8.
Earlier this year, Lalrinnunga claimed a silver (youth) and a bronze (junior) in the Asian Championships, smashing two national records in the process.
On Tuesday, Bhaker began the eight-woman final with a 10.0 and followed it up with a 10.1 and 10.4. She led the Stage 1 with 99.3 after a sequence that included seven scores of 10 and above.
Two 9.8 in the beginning of second stage (elimination) were followed by a 10.1 and 9.9, helping her maintain the lead over Thailand’s Kanyakorn Hirunphoem by some distance.
The World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medallist extended her domination in the following shots and looked to be on course for the yellow metal. She slipped once to the second place but quickly regained the top position.
Earlier, Bhaker topped the qualifying with 576, which included a series of 95, 96, 96, 96, 95, 98 and placed second and third in the qualification were Russia’s Enina Iana and Chinese Lu Kaiman with 569, the gulf in scores clearly highlighting the form the Indian was in.
Representing the country in the women’s 10m air pistol event, Bhaker has won medals at all major events she has participated barring the recent Asian Games.
While Lalrinnunga and Bhaker made the nation proud, weightlifter Sneha Soren could not finish on the podium in the women’s 48kg category, signing off fifth.
In swimming, Srihari Nataraj, who competed in the 100m backstroke final despite being a reserve, could only manage a sixth position.
In other events, Archana Kamath and Manav Thakkar, India’s representatives in table tennis, won their singles matches of the group stage.
Kamath beat Malaysia’s Javen Choong 4-2 while Thakkar defeated Slovakia’s Aleksandra Vovk 4-1.
Rising badminton sensation Lakshya Sen had it tough against Danylo Bosniuk in the first game before he regained his composure to beat the Ukrainian 23-21, 21-8.
India have already won four medals with Tushar Mane and Mehuli Ghosh bagging a silver each in 10m rifle shooting while Thangjam Tababi Devi won India’s first medal in judo by finishing second in the 44kg category.
India won just two medals — a silver and a bronze — in the last Youth Olympics in 2014 in Nanjing in China. In the inaugural 2010 edition in Singapore, the nation fetched six silver and a couple of bronze medals.
The country is being represented by 47 athletes at the ongoing Games, its biggest ever contingent.
Indian men’s hockey 5s team beat Kenya 7-1 in Youth Olympics
The Indian men’s hockey 5s team registered its third consecutive win at the Youth Olympic Games by beating Kenya 7-1 in a Pool B match.
Chirmako (5th, 10th minute) and Rabichandra Moirangthem (5th,11th) struck twice each while skipper Vivek Sagar Prasad (8th), Sanjay (14th) and Rahul Kumar Rajbhar (17th) also scored in the convincing victory.
Kenya’s only goal came in the 7th minute through Olanda Ouma.
India started the match well as they took eight shots at the Kenyan goal inside the first three minutes. But it was only in the 5th minute that the Indian team took the lead through Sudeep Chirmako’s goal.
The same minute saw Rabichandra Moirangthem also register his name on the score-sheet as he took India’s lead to two goals.
However, Kenya also threatened on the counter attack and scored their opening goal in the 7th minute through Olando Ouma as his shot was deflected off Indian goalkeeper Prashant Chauhan’s left leg and into the back of the net.
Indian captain Vivek Sagar Prasad restored his team’s two-goal lead as he scored in the 8th minute to make it 3-1. It was Sudeep Chirmako who got onto the score-sheet again as he scored in the dying seconds of the first period to extend India’s lead to 4-1.
The second period also started on a positive note for the Indian team as Rabichandra Moirangthem scored his second goal of the match in the 11th minute.
Three minutes later, Sanjay found himself in space inside the Kenyan half and scored with a precise finish to make the scoreline 6-1.
India kept putting pressure on the Kenyans and scored their seventh goal in the 17th minute through Rahul Kumar Rajbhar.
In the last minute of the match, India were awarded a penalty corner but Kenyan goalkeeper Paul Ongadi made a great save to deny Sanjay.
The Indian team will now face Australia in their fourth match of the Hockey 5s competition on Thursday.
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