ICYMI: Bajrang's redemption and a new teenage superstar
Shooters Tejaswini Sawant and Anish Bhanwala, and wrestler Bajrang Punia added three more golds to India's medal tally on Friday. They head into Saturday with the prospect of adding five more just through the men's boxing team, as five members of the squad advanced to their gold medal rounds by winning their semi-finals on Friday.
Yet another teenage superstar
37-year-old Tejaswini Sawant and 15-year-old Anish Bhanwala became the oldest and youngest Indian gold medallists for India at Gold Coast with medals in the medals in the 50m rifle 3 position and the 25m rapid fire pistol events respectively. Sawant, who had won silver in the 50m prone event on Thursday, got an upgrade as she led from the first shot to break the CWG record with a score of 457.9. The old mark stood at 449.1 set at the Glasgow Games. It was her third CWG gold and seventh overall medalat the Games.
The bigger newsmaker of the day was 15-year-old Anish Bhanwala who became the youngest ever Indian medallist at CWG by winning the 25m rapid fire event. Bhanwala, who got special permission to postpone some his Class X board papers in order to participate in CWG, shot a games record score of 30 in the final to take the gold. He won't have too long to relax though. "I have my class X exams just after landing in India. There is hindi, social studies and maths. I am a little worried about maths, I haven't practiced enough for that," he said.
After a dismal experience at Glasgow, where the men' s contingent returned with four silver medals and a bronze, Indian boxing showed there was still plenty of life left in the sport as five boxers made it to the gold medal rounds at Gold Coast. Light flyweight Amit Panghal (49kg), Flyweight Gaurav Solanki (52kg), lightweight Manish Kaushik (60kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg) and Super heavyweight (91kg +) Satish Kumar all won their semi-finals.
There would be some regret for the other boxers in the contingent with bantamweight (56kg) Mohammad Husamuddin, welterweight (69kg) Manoj Kumar and heavyweight (91kg) Namit Tanwar coming away with a bronze medals after losing in the semis. Of the five boxers who went through, Panghal, Solanki and Krishan advanced with unanimous decision wins, while Kaushik came on the right side of a split decision verdict against Irishman James McGivern. Satish Kumar advanced after receiving a bye.
Redemption for Bajrang
Bajrang Punia came into the games looking for redemption. He was the favourite to take the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but was upset in the final by Canada's David Tremblay in Glasgow. At Gold Coast, the 24-year-old wrestler stormed into the final of the men's freestyle 65kg event with wins over New Zealand's Brahm Richards, Nigeria's Amas Daniel and Canada's Vincent de Marinis. In the final against Kane Charig, Punia wrapped up gold by technical superiority inside the first round. Such was his dominance that Punia didn't drop a single point over the course of the competition.
Athletes keep medal dream alive
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra didn't break much sweat as he advanced to the finals of the javelin throw event on Friday. Needing to throw a mark of 78m to automatically qualify for the final, the 20-year-old threw 80.42m on his very first attempt. He was joined in the final by compatriot Vipin Kasana, who threw 78.88m in his first attempt. Chopra's chances in the final were greatly boosted after World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Julius Yego crashed out in the qualifying stage itself.
While Chopra is taking part in his first Commonwealth Games, Kasana would be looking to make amends for his performance at the last CWG, where he threw 71.95m to exit at the qualification stage. There was plenty to cheer about in the men's 4x400m heats as well. Buoyed by the performance of Mohammad Anas in the individual 400m race (where he finished fourth), the Indian relay team clocked 3.04.05 to qualify in second place for Saturday's final. They finished only just behind Jamaica who clocked 3.03.97 seconds.