New Delhi: Rifle ace Gagan Narang fired home his fourth gold to put India ahead of England in the fierce competition for gaining the second spot on the sixth day of competitions in the Commonwealth Games on Saturday.
Narang, who has been the pick of the shooters at the Dr Karni range, added the men’s 50m rifle 3-position gold medal to the 25m centre fire pistol men’s pair gold claimed at the same venue by Vijay Kumar and Harpreet Singh earlier in the day.
India’s ace shooter Gagan Narang celebrates after winning gold in the men’s singles 50m rifle 3 position event during the Commonwealth Games at Dr K Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on Saturday. Manvender Vashist / PTI Photo
India, who were third behind England with 21 gold apiece in the table, were pushed ahead of the latter by Narang’s triumph, which was the 12th title won by the shooting team, and had a tally of 22 gold, 16 silver and 14 bronze medals.
India had claimed 22 gold medals in the last edition of the Games in Melbourne.
England were just behind with 21 gold but had the better share of the silverware with 37 in their medal chest along with 21 bronze medals.
India won a shooting bronze medal too, when Suma Shirur and Kavita Yadav stood third in the women’s 10m air rifle pairs event. In all the shooters have secured 22 medals, only six short of the record tally of 26 gained at Melbourne in 2006.
The other two bronze medals that came India’s way were provided by 20km walker Harminder Singh in a carer-best 1 hour, 23 minutes, 28 seconds in the men’s road event, and the men’s table tennis outfit which blanked Nigeria 3-0 in the bronze medal tie.
India, one ahead of England in the gold tally going into the sixth day of competitions, saw the latter nose ahead when 20km woman walker Jo Jackson gave an early morning impetus to their surge by clinching the event in 1 hour, 34 minutes and 22 seconds.
The hosts plucked an unexpected bronze in the 20km walk for men held simultaneously on the roads of Central Delhi when Harminder Singh finished a creditable third behind Aussies Jarred Tallent, winner of two walk medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Luke Adams in a career best 1:23:28.
After the walk gold, England moved up the pecking order because of the larger number of silverware won, but as has been the custom in these Games the country’s marksmen responded in splendid fashion to put India ahead in the gold tally.
On the wrestling mat, freestyle exponents Yogeshwar Dutt (men’s 60kg) and Narsingh Pancham Yadav (men’s 74kg) entered the final after beating England’s Sasha Madyarchyk and Canada’s Evan MacDonald in the semi finals respectively.
Another wrestler, Anil Maan (96kg) lost his preliminary bout to Leon Gregor Rattigan of England.
There was disappointment for India in the women’s 20km walk in which Rani Yadav was the best-placed at sixth after clocking 1:42:54. Another Indian Sandhya Jolly finished eighth in 1:51:44, while Deepmala Devi failed to finish the race and ended up bottom of the heap.
Amandeep Singh (49kg) entered the boxing semi finals to continue the country’s medal hunt in the ring in right earnest.
In tennis, Somdev Devvarman and Sania Mirza would be seen in action in the finals.
With the shooting squad firing on all cylinders and more medals of different hues expected from archers, lifters and wrestlers, the chances of India maintaining the lead over England looked bright.
The Games organisers, facing flak all round for the mess in the sale of tickets, were given a strong tick-off by the Commonwealth Games Federation which today launched an investigation into the complaints of unavailability of tickets by people despite empty seats at some stadiums.
CGF chief Michael Fennell made his unhappiness clear when he intervened Organising Committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot answering a question on ticketing issue and said that in a meeting today it was decided the matter would be investigated and report submitted by tomorrow.
”You (Bhanot) were not in the meeting this morning. If people go to the ticketing counters and they don’t get tickets there is a problem. We have asked for an inevstigation and we hope to get a report by tomorrow,” Fennell said at the customary press conference.
Fennell, however, said that the attendance at competition venues has improved but ”still not satisfactory”.
OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi did not attend the media conference for the second consecutive day and Bhanot had to face a volley of tough questions from the scribes.
Asked why Kalmadi skipped the media conference today also, Bhanot said, ”He attended the monitoring committee meeting and he is fine. I am the OC secretary general and I am here.”