Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gagan creates history with fourth Commonwealth gold medal

Shooter Gagan Narang scripted history by winning the fourth gold medal at the Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on Saturday. He bagged the gold in the Singles 50 m Rifle 3 Positions (Men) event and took India's gold medals to 22.

ACE INDIAN shooter Gagan Narang scripted history by winning the fourth gold medal at the Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on Saturday. He bagged the gold in the Singles 50 m Rifle 3 Positions (Men) event and took India's gold medals to 22. At the rate at which Narang has been performing in the Commonwealth, India can expect few more such medals in the coming days.

Meanwhile, shooters Harpreet Singh and Vijay Kumar too clinched gold medals in men's 25-metre centre fire pistol pairs event. The Commonwealth Games has brought to the fore some incredibly talented athletes and sports persons. In athletics, Harminder Singh secured a bronze medal in men's 20 km walk. Another feat was achieved by Kavita Raut on Friday when she created history by winning bronze medal in women's 10,000 metres.

Other possible events, where India can expect gold is in women's individual recurve event in which India will be represented by archers Dola Banerjee and Deepika Kumari. In the men's segment, Jayanta Talukdar and Rahul Banerjee may fetch another gold in men's recurve event.

In wrestling, all hopes are pinned upon Sushil Kumar in men's freestyle wrestling. Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg), Anuj Kumar (84kg) and Anil Kumar (55kg) are the others, who will represent India in different categories.

CWG Tennis: Sania goes down fighting in singles final

India's Sania Mirza saved four match points but fell short in the decisive final set tie-breaker to lose a nail
-biting women's singles tennis final

3-6, 6-2, 6-7 (3) to Australia's Anastasia Rodionova at the Commonwealth Games here Saturday.

The 23-year-old-Indian, world ranked 137, had to content with a silver at the Games where tennis had made its debut.

With a set-all, the momentum shifted dramatically in the decider. The two players shared four breaks of serve before the match went into the tie-breaker, where the Australian prevailed and even earned a thunderous applause from the partisan crowd which cheered on her every error.

It was a heartbreaking loss for Sania, who rallied against the top seeded Australian, world ranked 62. With spectators from the overflowing stands cheering Sania, the Indian was up a break in the decider but allowed the advantage let slip.

Sania, however, won the hearts of those packed the centre court. The guests included Commonwealth Games Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalamadi, actress Nafisa Ali and Olympic silver medallist shooter Rajyavardahn Singh Rathore.

"It was an honour playing for the country. The important thing is that I gave my best, though I fell short." Sania said.

Both the players showed nerves in the beginning with neither able to hold serve in the first three games of the match.

Sania's serve again let her down, as she was not able to hold her service even once in the first set, and a stream of errors flew from her racquet in her attempt to go for outright winners.

With crowd firmly behind her and cheering for her on every point, the Indian raised her game by several notches in the second set and broke the Australian in the third and the seventh game, making it a set all.

Ironically, she double faulted when she was serving to stay in the match.

Rodionova, who is a Russian by birth, said: "I have been working hard. Now I feel like a real Australian after winning the Commonwealth Games gold."

The bronze medal match between Australians Sally Peers and Olivia Rogowska will take place later in the evening.

India wins 3 golds on Day 5, Somdev and Sania in singles finals

Indian ace shooter Gagan Narang won his third gold medal in the Commonwealth Games 2010 , whereas, country's top seeded tennis players Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza secured their berth for gold events in the men's and women's single.

INDIAN ACE shooter Gagan Narang won his third gold medal in the Commonwealth Games 2010 at Dr. Karni Singh Shooting range on Friday. Gagan Narang with Imran Hasan Khan won his third gold and this was the 16th gold overall for the Indian contingent in the Commonwealth Games.

Earlier, Gagan Narang with Abhinav Bindra had won gold medals in men's 10m air rifle pair event and in the 10 m Air Rifle Men Singles events. Indian shooters have now won nine golds, six silvers and a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games 2010. Total of 32 golds are at stake in the Shooting event, which will continue till October 13.

Today, one more shooter Vijay Kumar won a gold in the men's singles of 25m rapid fire pistol event.

The first gold medal for India today was won by archers Deepika Kumari, Dola Banerjee and Bombayala Devi Laishram in Women's Recurve team event.

In Tennis, country's top seeded tennis players Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza secured their berth in the men's and women's singles final. Somdev Devvarman won against Matt Ebden of Australia 6-3, 6-1, whereas, Sania Mirza defeated her Australian opponent Olivia Rogowska by 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinal.

Indian Wrestler Babita Kumari stormed to the finals of the women's 51 KG freestyle wrestling event and ensured another medal for India. Yesterday, another wrestler Geeta had won the gold medal in the Women's freestyle 55 kg event.

Commonwealth Games 2010: Haroon Khan says he proved GB selectors wrong

Haroon Khan guaranteed a Commonwealth Games medal at the Talkatora Stadium in Delhi insisting beating a British Olympic squad fighter gave him more satisfaction than knowing he will head home with at least bronze.

The 19 year-old, brother of world champion Amir Khan, wearing the vest of Pakistan, squeezed past Welshman Andrew Selby on countback after a tight 3-3 draw, then said he felt vindicated after alleging he had been frozen out of the Great Britain squad.

Khan said: "This is what I wanted to do - get a medal and beat a lad from the Great Britain podium squad. I've done that and proved them wrong. It [beating a Briton] is more important than the medal."

Responding to comments made by Selby after the previous round in which the Welshman said Khan was not worthy of a podium squad place, Khan said: "Selby said he battered me in sparring - well look what happened then.

"My hand was lifted and I'm just so proud. My job was to come here and prove the selectors wrong and I've done that. I've got a medal at 52kg and the British lad hasn't got it. I wanted a medal to prove I'm good enough and I've done that."

Khan took the lead with a left hand through Selby's tight guard in the opening round, but a good left in return allowed the Welshman, whose more accurate shots lacked power, to draw level.

A crisp counter-punching right from Khan put him back in front in round two but Selby's dogged persistence paid off with a second equalising punch towards the end of the round, setting up a dramatic finale.

Both fighters exchanged single points again in the third with Khan's looser, more powerful performance ultimately catching the eye of the judges and sending him through to a semi-final against India's Suranjoy Mayengbam.

Khan has yet to decide whether he will remain an amateur or turn pro but father Shah, who was watching ringside, is hoping he will compete in London in the colours of Pakistan.

“I’d love him to be at the Olympic Games because it’s every youngster’s dream,” he said. “As a parent, I’ve seen Amir there and I’d also like to see Haroon there and hopefully win a medal.”

But Khan senior hit out at Rob McCracken, the GB Boxing performance director and head coach of the England team in Delhi, accusing him of excluding his son without even seeing him box.

“He has not seen Haroon box at all,” he said. “All he’s seen is paperwork. He’s seen the paperwork that says Haroon got beaten at a certain stage, but that means nothing.

“If kids like Haroon get pushed away at an early stage, he [McCracken] doesn’t get to see these guys. McCracken’s never seen Haroon in a camp, so how can he pick a team when he doesn’t know about the guys?”

Haroon, who is keeping in constant touch with Amir at his training camp in the Philippines where he is preparing for his WBA light welterweight defence in December, said: “My message to the selectors is to keep their eyes open because there is so much talent out there in England.”

Meanwhile, England light heavyweight Obed Mbwakongo landed a last-second punch to become the first fighter to beat an Indian at the Games, defeating Dinesh Kumar 9-8.

His victory followed a controversial loss for English bantamweight Iain Weaver at the hands of India’s Akhil Kumar. Weaver claimed he was “stitched up” by poor judging decisions as he went down 11-6.

Middlesbrough heavyweight Simon Vallily opened his Commonwealth campaign with a first-round knock-out of Dominic Winrow, of the Isle of Man.

There were worrying scenes when Glasgow boxer Joe Ham collapsed following his 14-11 bantamweight defeat by Namibia’s Sakaria Lukas.

The 19-year-old was preparing to talk to reporters when his legs gave way. He was unconscious for five minutes before he eventually came round and was taken by stretcher to an ambulance.

Jones equals 10-gold record at Commonwealth Games

Leisel Jones watched backstroke teammate Emily Seebohm touch the wall at the Commonwealth Games pool on Saturday, then plunged off the deck and into her breaststroke leg of the Australian team’s 4x100-meter medley relay.

Powering through the water, she raced her two laps of the pool, then watched as butterfly specialist Jessicah Schipper and then freestyler Alicia Coutts completed an easy first-place finish and an Australian gold medal at the Dr. Dr. S.P. Makherjee Aquatic Complex in suburban New Delhi.

Easy enough, but this one was special for Jones: her 10th gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, equaling a record career haul held by two other Australian swim stars, Ian Thorpe and Susie O’Neill.

The 25-year-old three-time Olympic champion won three gold medals in her first games at Manchester in 2002, had four in Melbourne in 2006 and in New Delhi this week won the 100 and 200 breaststroke before her medley relay gold.

“I have a feeling the team will do it for her,” O’Neill said from an Australian television network’s broadcast podium before the night’s finals.

Jones, who has won seven world titles since joining the Australian swim team at the age of 14, said it was special knowing O’Neill was in the building.

“Susie was here and saw the race and she was very gracious,” said Jones. “It was very special.”

Jones said it was good to share the record-equaling experience with her teammates.

“It was lovely,” Jones said. “We all love swimming the medley relays. It was a great way to top off for me. It’s good to be on a nice round number.”

Jones said she might not be around when the Commonwealth Games go to Glasgow, Scotland in 2014.

“I don’t know about that,” Jones said. “It is a lot of fun but my main competition is not really here.”

Jones will likely get a chance to test herself against the “main competition”—the United States—in Shanghai, China next year at the world championships and in 2012 at the London Olympics.

Commonwealth Games drug free, so far

The Commonwealth Games have been completely clean so far on at least one front: 500 athletes who have been tested for doping have all been given the all-clear.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell told a news conference Saturday that 1,500 doping tests were planned during the games period, "and that target remains." He said all tests conducted up to Thursday had come back negative, "and that is a positive result."

The federation is responsible for testing the athletes and the World Anti-Doping Agency is observing. Fennell said the number of tests will increase in pace with the number of finals -- under the testing regime, all medal winners are tested and some are done randomly.

It was good news for the games, which have been plagued by stomach illnesses affecting some swimmers, near-empty stadiums, construction delays, concerns about dengue fever and filthy conditions in the athletes' village before the games began.

Organizing committee officials said ticket sales for the games, which end on Oct. 14, are approaching the million mark -- 946,000 as of Friday, including nearly 55,000 sold on Friday itself. And they said the reason for half-empty stadiums where tickets are reportedly sold out was that corporate sponsors were not passing thousands of them along to clients.

In parts of the Commonwealth, the organizational blunders would be described as a bit of a "dog's breakfast."

It was no great surprise when a stray dog, common on the streets of New Delhi, sauntered onto the track at the main stadium and into the infield on Saturday morning, bringing hoots and roars of laughter from the crowd as workers tried to catch him.

"It's not an uncommon phenomenon," said IAAF technical director Keith Davies, who attends track meets around the world. "We've had dogs, we've had cats, foxes."

After roaming the track and evading two workers dispatched to shoo him off, the dog disappeared through a tunnel near the 100-meter starting line and disappeared.

The track invasion happened not long after Fennell had delivered his latest urge for local organizers to improve the ticket sales situation.

"On attendance, it is not fully satisfactory," Fennell said. "We will continue to keep pressure on the organizing committee to what can be done, whether it be sales or complimentary tickets to groups."

An outbreak of dengue fever was a concern after a prolonged monsoon season, heightened after an Indian team official was hospitalized last week with the potentially fatal disease.

Nigerian table tennis player Ekundayo Nasiru withdrew from competition on Saturday, but officials with the team said it was for malaria, another mosquito-born disease which is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa but not a major concern in the Indian capital.

The first two of 32 gold medals on offer Saturday went to Australia's Jared Tallent and England's Jo Jackson in the men's and women's 20-kilometer race walks. Jackson beat Tallent's wife, Clare.

Those were also the first events held outside the heavily secured venues, protected by 100,000 police and military. And were conducted without a hitch. The men's and women's road races will be held Sunday in the streets of downtown New Delhi.

Inside the aquatics center, Australia was again the dominant nation, finishing the six-day swim meet with 22 gold medals. Alicia Coutts won five of those to lead the individual count at New Delhi, and veteran Leisel Jones picked up her third in a week to join Australian swimming greats Susie O'Neill and Ian Thorpe with a record career haul of 10 Commonwealth Games titles.

Canada's Brent Hayden completed a freestyle sprint double on Saturday by edging defending champion Roland Schoeman in the 50 final, going with his gold in the 100.

World and Olympic champion Valerie Adams easily won the shot put gold medal, breaking her own Commonwealth Games record with her first attempt of 20.47 meters in an evening athletics final.

"Job done," Adams said. "That is what I wanted, to rip it up and throw big and win gold."

India remained on target at the range, where Gagan Narang won the men's 50-me rifle three positions final to claim his fourth gold medal at New Delhi 2010. He has contributed one-third of India's 12 golds at the range, helping keep the host country in a tight race with England for second place in the overall medal standings.

Archer Duncan Busby edged compatriot Chris White in the individual compound final to register England's 600th gold medal in Commonwealth Games history, and 22nd so far in Delhi.

Faavae Faauliuli made history at the other end of the spectrum, claiming Samoa's first Commonwealth Games gold medal when he won the men's 94-kilogram weightlifting title with a total of 334 kilograms.

"I feel happy and proud," Faauliuli said. "All my countrymen will be happy about my gold.

World No. 1 Wins Commonwwealth Games Squash Gold

Nicol David, the world no. 1 women's squash player struck gold Friday when she she defeated Jenny DuncalfJenny Duncalf 11-3, 11-5, 11-7 in the XIX Commonwealth Games squash singles final.

This is the only major title missing from her impressive career. Her previous best finish was fourth place at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006. Second-seeded Duncalf, who has beaten David twice this year, simply had no answer to the world No. 1’s power play.

David won in 35 minutes without dropping a single game as she did when winning last month's World Open in Egypt. She said, “This is one tournament that I really wanted to win".

The 27-year-old Malaysian, who is the first Asian to achieve the world no. 1 ranking, recently won a record-equalling fifth world title. This is her 54th month at the top of the rankings. David is also the first squash player to have won the World Junior title twice; in 1999 and 2001.

Tech power India can't keep the Games website up and running

The Commonwealth Games official website has gone for a toss. Far from being uploaded automatically almost in real time, the website has been painfully slow, often well behind private media sites. This has virtually shut down an important window on the Delhi Games for the wider world.

The mess is the result of an expensive piece of technology, the Timing, Scoring & Results (TSR) system, a key requirement in modern sporting events.

The system was procured by the Games OC for a stunning Rs 112 crore, which is five times more than what Melbourne paid for its TSR system at the last Commonwealth Games. Experts here say it could be bought for Rs 35 crore.

Now, after a week of complaints and with just five days to go, Infostrada, which provides comprehensive statistics and sports information services at the Games, will now launch a new website solely for the media's use.

This cock-up is seen as a huge embarrassment, especialy as India prides itself on being a technology power. But the TSR system tripped up every day in the week the Games have been on, forcing Commonwealth Games Federation boss Mike Fennell to admit on Saturday to problems with the system.

Fennell said that there were problems with the official Games website, which has failed to provide automatic updates and been virtually useless.

"There have been glitches," Fennell said. "With the help of Infostrada and Swiss Timing we are trying for an alternative solution to the problem."

Sources told TOI that the TSR system has been bought from Swiss Timing, one of the two companies that submitted a bid. The bid of the other company, MSL, was rejected on the grounds that it did not meet evaluation criteria. The Games technology team is headed by Harsh Kumar, who is a finance professional.

Delhi Plans Wing To Maintain Games Infrastructure

The Delhi government is planning to create a separate wing in the public works department (PWD) to maintain the expansive infrastructures built across the city for the Commonwealth Games.

Delhi public works minister Rajkumar Chauhan said forming a new wing was imperative to ensure that the constructions remained in shape even after the Games.

He said the maintenance of the Games' infrastructure would be a challenging task and demanded considerable expenditure, but would help Delhi arrive on the world map.

"Some Games projects like the elevated road, Ring Road bypass and Salimgarh flyover have created history as they were constructed in a record span of time. At least more than three years were required to construct the elevated road, but Delhi did it in just 20 months," Chauhan said.

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