Lifters lift India's first four medals in CWG
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Lifters lift India's first four medals in CWG

Four Indian weightlifters won medals on the first day of Commonwealth Games competition on Monday, putting Indian weightlifting's recent doping-related controversies firmly behind them. Saurabh Duggal reports. See special | The dream team | India watch

other Updated: Oct 05, 2010 08:00 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times

Four Indian weightlifters won medals on the first day of Commonwealth Games competition on Monday, putting Indian weightlifting's recent doping-related controversies firmly behind them.

Two women lifters - Soniya Chanu and Sandhya Rani Devi - in the women's 48 kg category clinched the silver and bronze respectively. Hours later, two male lifters, Sukhen Dey and V S Rao, also a silver and bronze in the men's 56 kg.

The wrestling contingent had hoped to open India's campaign with a gold but that was not to be.

A 17-year-old high school student from Nigeria scripted another fairytale and pipped the Indian women to the top spot. However, four medals after almost 12 months of uncertainty was not a bad start.

Last October, India were fined and banned from international meets after six Indian lifters tested positive for banned steroids in a 12-month period.

But with the Games coming up, an embarrassed India made a special request to the International Weightlifting Federation - that they impose a fine instead.

It was accepted and India were slapped with a $500,000 (about Rs 2.3 crore) fine, which they finally paid on August 30, the very day the deadline was to expire - that too, only with the help of the sports ministry.

"Our aim was to keep the sport dope-free and we achieved it. The medal count will definitely go up now," said Sahdev Singh Yadav, secretary-general of the Indian Lifting Federation, the new national body - which came into existence last December after the old one was disbanded.

It set a regimented training schedule, cancelled foreign stints and handed over charge of the team to homebred coaches.

"We stopped sending our lifters abroad for training because we felt they were coming in contact with drugs there. If we look back, we'll see the doping menace peaked when foreign coaches were around," said Yadav.

National coach Harnam Singh hoped the lifting team's performance in the Games would help people forget controversies.

"We want our stars back where they belong," he said.

"On top of the world."

Chetan Anand and Saina Nehwal won their singles matches, and then Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas made took the doubles before Ashwini Ponappa and Aparna Balan teamed up to win and finally the mixed pair V Diju and Jwala Gutta made it a clean sweep.

India will face Barbados Tuesday and will play Wales and Scotland on successive days.

Tennis stars Leander Paes and Sania Mirza rounded off a successful opening day for India at the R K Khanna Tennis Complex winning their match dropping just one gameto Saint Lucia's Stacey Nykita Roheman and Alberton Richelieu to enter the mixed doubles quarterfinals.

Rohan Bopanna kicked off the day with an emphatic straight sets victory over Uganda's Robert Buyinza to sail into the last 16 of the men's singles and Rushmi Charkravathi soon made it two in a row for India, dropping only one game in beating Pinki Agnes Montlha of Lesotho.

Poojashree Venkatesha hardly broke sweat blanking Lesotho's Nthabiseng Eunicia Nqosa.

The only blemish in India's campaign was the loss of Bopanna and Nirupama Sanjeev in the mixed doubles first round to top seeds Paul Hanley and Anastasia Rodionova of Australia 3-6, 6-3, 3-6.

India had a mixed opening day in table tennis as the men breezed past island nation Vanuatu while the women lost one of their two group matches against New Zealand.

The Indian eves registered a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sri Lanka in the morning but lost 2-3 in a close match against the impressive New Zealanders later in the day at the Yamuna Sports Complex.

Four of the five New Zealand players are of Chinese origin.

The women's team, bronze medallists four years ago,is seeded fourth in the tournament.

The women's hockey competition also began Monday and India survived a scare against Scotland in pool A, salvaging a 1-1 draw after being down by a third minute goal.

The Scots were off to a great start when Holly Cram found the net in the third minute. India dominated the rest of the game, but missed chances until Jasjeet Kaur scored the equalizer in the 45th minute.

India's men's 4x100 metres freestyle relay swimming team qualified for the finals but finished sixth, as they had in the heats at the at the S.P.Mukherjee Aquatics Complex.

In the men's 50m backstroke, Badrinath Melkote clocked 27.52 secs to qualify for the semi-finals, but couldn't move any further.

Indian swimmers also failed to qualify in the women's 200m freestyle, men's 400m freestyle, women's 200m individual medley, men's 200m butterfly and women's 50m breaststroke.

See special | The dream team

First Published: Oct 04, 2010 22:28 IST