Two more gold medals came India's way as the weightlifters continued their impressive showing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Three days into the Games, India has picked up at least a gold medal every day and Saturday provided double delight to take the tally to four overall.
Sivalingam and Ragala strike gold
You will remember Sathish Kumar Sivalingam as the weightlifting champion who always wore a smile from the Glasgow Games in 2014. Today, it looked like he had lost neither his touch at lifting nor his smile as he made it back-to-back golds at the Commonwealth Games, successfully defending his gold medal in the Men's 77kg category in impressive fashion.
He couldn't quite match his overall tally from Glasgow, but with a score of 317 kg - 144 in the Snatch and 173 in the Clean & Jerk - Sivalingam secured the gold medal. His closest competitor was Jack Oliver of England who finished 5 kilos behind for the Silver. Australia's Francois Etoundi picked up bronze.
There was more joy later on in the 85kg category as 21-year-old Venkat Rahul Ragala claimed gold in the Men's 85kg category fending off intense competition from Samoa's 18-year-old Don Opeloge. He topped the standings with a combined score of 338 kg.
Coincidentally, both Sivalingam and Ragala won gold at these same two events a year ago at the Commonwealth Championships. So this was a continuation of their impressive runs.
There was one other lifter in action, Vandna Gupta in the Women's 63kg. She, however, could only manage a 5th placed finish, lifting well below her personal best, 40 kilos off the gold medal-winning total.
The Indian men got their campaign underway on Saturday, but just like the women, it wasn't the best start. Facing Pakistan, the Indians played superbly in the first half and went 2-0 up. But a sloppy second half, combined with an improved showing from Pakistan saw the match finish 2-2 with Pakistan equalizing from a penalty corner with 17 seconds left in the game after a review.
There was controversy over the review though as there seemed to be no contact with the foot of any Indian defender, but the penalty corner was still awarded. Goalkeeper Sreejesh pulled off some magnificent saves through the game, but the Indians had to settle for a point in the end.
Sarita Devi and Manoj Kumar continued their progress in the Women's 60kg and Men's 69kg respectively. Sarita beat Kimberly Gittens of Barbados to move into the quarterfinals while Manoj Kassim Mbundwike of Tanzania to also make the quarters.
Hussamuddin Mohammed in the Men's 56kg also moved into the quarters with a win over Vanuatu's Boe Warawara.
India faced Mauritius in the quarterfinals of the Mixed Team event and they registered their third straight 3-0 overall victory with a comfortable win.
India will play Singapore in the semis tomorrow.
Dipika Pallikal was scheduled to play in the Plate quarterfinals against Samantha Cornett of Canada. But there was no match as Pallikal gave a walkover to her opponent instead. The reasons for the walkover are not yet known.
Joshna Chinappa, meanwhile, did take to the court to play, but was beaten in the Women's Singles quarterfinals by New Zealand's Joelle King in straight games.
India had it easy in the Women's Team quarterfinals as they beat Malaysia 3-0, winning all three matches in straight games. England await in the semis tomorrow.
The men's team also played Malaysia and won in similarly comprehensive fashion. They will play Singapore in the semis.
Sajan Prakash swam well to make it through all the way to the Final of the Men's 200m Butterfly. He finished 8th in a time of 1:59.05 minutes in a race won by South Africa's Chad Le Clos. Teenager Srihari Nataraj broke the national record with his time of 26.50 seconds in the semifinals of the Men's 50m Backstroke, but it wasn't enough to get him into the final.
Both the men's and women's teams were in action on Saturday. The men were soundly beaten by England, 100-54 in their Pool B encounter while the women went down to Malaysia 72-85 in their Pool B match.
Yogeshwar Singh made it to the finals of the Men's Individual All-Around, but finished in 14th place 19 points off first place. On the women's side either there wasn't much luck. Aruna Reddy and Pranati Das finished 14th and 16th respectively.
The Indian men lost another close contest in a Men's Triples Section A contest, losing to South Africa by a point. The team also lost in the Men's Pairs to the Norfolk Islands.
The women's team meanwhile won their match, beating Fiji in the Women's Fours. But in the quarterfinals, they were beaten by Malta 13-11.
In individual action, Pinki finally won her first match, beating Niue's Pauline Blumsky in Women's Singles Section D.
Women's Fours, Quarterfinal B - India 11-13 Malta
Women's Fours Section B, Round 5 - Fiji 9-India 24
Men's Triples Section A, Round 5 - South Africa 17-16 India
Women's Singles Section D, Round 5 - Pinki (India) 21-9 Pauline Blumsky (Niue)
Men's Pairs Section D, Round 5 - Norfolk Island 17-7 India
The Indian men's trio of Sanuraj Sanandaraj, Sahil Kumar and Ranjit Singh all failed to qualify for the medal rounds in the Men's Sprint. Manjeet Singh also failed to progress in the Men's 15km Scratch Race.
In the Women's 25km Points Race, Manorama Devi did not finish the race while Sonali Mayanglambam did not even start.