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Sex, drugs, rock n'roll and gold: India do it all

Samaresh Jung's five gold medals capped an eventful Commonwealth Games for India that swung between heart warming performances and shocking scandals.
None | By Agence France-Presse, Melbourne
PUBLISHED ON MAR 26, 2006 01:36 PM IST

Pistol king Samaresh Jung's five gold medals capped an eventful Commonwealth Games for India that swung between heart warming performances and shocking scandals.

A team masseur was charged for a sexual assault before the Games began, two weightlifters failed dope tests midway through it and the brightest stars of Bollywood rocked Melbourne to mark its closing.

In between, competitors piled up gold medals that few predicted could be won and lost some that were there for the taking, but there was no denying India a place among the Games elite.

India took away 22 gold medals, 17 silver and 11 bronze from Melbourne, finishing fourth behind runaway winners Australia, England and Canada.

The Indians had won 30 golds in Manchester four years ago but that was before weightlifting changed its rules to award only one gold in each category instead of separate medals for snatch, clean and jerk and overall.

The shooters led the medal rush in Melbourne, taking 16 golds, seven silvers and four bronze medals with Jung dominating the ranges.

The 35-year-old federal security officer went into his last two events with five golds and a silver and well-placed to surpass Australian swimmers Susie O'Neill and Ian Thorpe's Games record of six golds apiece.

But the man dubbed "Goldfinger" by Games volunteers at the shooting range managed only a bronze in the 25m Centre Fire Pistol and finished fourth in the Standard Pistol after his weapon jammed and misfired.

But Jung, whose rifle shooting wife Anuja also won a gold medal, hid his disappointment well.

"I wanted to get eight medals if possible, I got seven and I'm satisfied with that," he said.

"I didn't know there was a record and I didn't come for the record. I just came to shoot my matches and I shot them well."

Gagan Narang, a 22-year-old student from Hyderabad, won three golds and Rajyavardhan Rathore, India's lone Olympic medallist in Athens, showed he was unmatched in the Double Trap individual event.

But it was the unexpected success in other disciplines that delighted the country's Olympic chiefs.

Akhil Kumar won the 54 kg Bantamweight boxing title and three women's weightlifters, Geeta Rani, Kunjarani Devi and Chanu Yumnam, won gold.

The twin success in table tennis where India won the men's team gold medal and Sharath Achanta took the individual title left the contingent stunned.

"I am a proud man today, very proud," Indian Olympic chief Suresh Kalmadi told AFP.

"We have shown the world that we are not just a cricket nation. There is life beyond cricket as well."

If only the scandals had not got in the way.

Dewan Nabi, a masseur with the team, is facing charges of indecent assault on a teenage Games volunteer. Nabi, 35, vehemently denies the accusation.

Two male weightlifters tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol during an out of competition test before the Games started.

Indian team sources identified the two lifters as Edwin Raju, who finished fourth in the men's 56kg category, and Tejinder Singh, who withdrew from the 85kg.

India, hosts of the 2010 Games in New Delhi, chose former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and a host of Bollywood stars to woo Australians at the closing ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Jung and company had already ensured India will not be forgotten easily.

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