New Delhi:A women’s relay gold medal and an upset victory over England in the men’s hockey semifinal were Tuesday’s highlights for India as it narrowly maintained its second position at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
But with two more days of sporting action remaining at the event, the day ended with a distinct chance that England, now just two gold medals short of India’s tally, might sneak ahead.
India ended Tuesday with 32 gold, 25 silver and 32 bronze medals, well behind Australia’s tally of 68-45-40 and just ahead of England’s 30-50-41.
Indian women upset the odds to win the 4x400m relay gold medal, crossing the line in 3:27.77. Nigeria came second and England were third.
India’s Mandeep Kaur, (left) embraces Manjeet Kaur after the team won the women’s 4x400m relay gold at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Anja Niedringhaus/AP
But England swept the gold medals in the 4x100m relays, winning both the men’s and women’s races.
The men’s team of Ryan Scott, Leon Baptiste, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis won in 38.74 seconds at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, holding off a Jamaican team. Jamaica was second in 38.79 and India was third in 38.89.
In the women’s sprint relay, England earned the gold by nearly a second, winning in 44.19. Ghana was second in 45.24, and India again took bronze in 45.25.
It was the evening thriller at Dhyan Chand Stadium, however, that warmed Indian hearts.
The timing and the stage were perfect — thousands of fans watching a match that could potentially see India make their maiden appearance in the Commonwealth Games men’s hockey final.
The Indian team rose to the occasion, staging a remarkable rally to down World Cup semi-finalists and European champions England on penalties.
Dancing and singing began in the stands when Shivender Singh converted the last penalty to give the hosts a 5-4 win in the shootout.
Goalkeeper Bharat Chetri also played a key role in making India’s night, saving a penalty after his team had overcome a 3-1 deficit in regulation time. Sandip Bhatia was one of the thousands of fans who thronged the stadium, confident of the home team’s victory. “I am sure India will win as we have been playing very good hockey in this tournament,” said Bhatia.
Hockey, a poor cousin to cricket in the country, enjoyed a day in the sun, or rather a night in the floodlights, on Sunday when a capacity 19,000 watched the hosts thrash arch-rivals Pakistan 7-4 in a key pool tussle.
The victory over Pakistan in the exciting match raised fans’ expectations and interest, despite the history being against India who had never won a men’s field hockey medal at the Games.
A doping case also emerged on Tuesday, the second in two days, and again involving a Nigerian runner.
Samuel Okon, who was sixth in the 110-meter hurdles final on Friday, tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine, Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell said.