South Asian Games: India set for rich medal haul on Saturday

The host country is expected to clinch most of the gold medals on offer in wrestling and weightlifting competitions.

PTI| Updated: Feb 05, 2016, 18:36 PM IST
South Asian Games: India set for rich medal haul on Saturday

Guwahati: India are poised to begin their South Asian Games campaign in a resounding manner with the country's wrestlers, weightlifters and swimmers expected to grab most of the medals on offer on the first day of competitions here on Saturday.

Indians will also take the field in cycling, football, squash and kho-kho at various venues.

The host country is expected to clinch most of the gold medals on offer in wrestling and weightlifting competitions.

Ravindra and Rajneesh will take the field in men's 57kg and 65kg freestyle wrestling while Priyanka Singh, Archana Tomar and Manisha will fight it out in women's category in 48kg, 55kg and 60kg at the DTRP Indoor Stadium.

India had won three gold medals and a silver in men's freestyle in the last edition in Dhaka while Pakistan had bagged two gold and a silver.

In weightlifting, India had dominated in the last edition of the Games and they are expected to continue the same this time as well.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Mirabai Chanu is expected to open India's gold medal account in women's 48kg while national champion Harshdeep Kaur will also look to grab the top spot in 53kg.

In men's 56kg, India has fielded Guru Raja who won a bronze in the national championships in December last and he is expected to fight it out with Abdullah Ghafoor of Pakistan in the men's 56kg for the top spot. Ghafoor had won a bronze in the last edition in Dhaka.

In squash, India had sent a full strength team and they are hoping to end Pakistan's domination in the Games. Top players Sourav Ghosal and Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu will begin their campaign in men's individual event. Joshna Chinnappa and Sunaina Kumari will be in action in women's individual events.

There is no medal round tomorrow and upto quarterfinal stage will be held.

"We are hoping that we do better than Pakistan this time.

We have a strong squad and we can do it," chief coach Cyrus Poncha told PTI.

In the last edition in Dhaka, Pakistan won both the gold and silver in men's individual events and gold in the team event. India and Bangladesh won silver and bronze respectively in the team event.

In swimming, India will begin their campaign with Asian Games bronze-medallist Sandeep Sejwal as spearhead. Sejwal will be seen in action in men's 200m breastroke and head coach Pradeep Kumar predicted that the Delhi swimmer is a sure shot gold medal winner.

Other Indian competitors on the first day of swimming competition are Saurabh Sangvekar (men's 200m freestyle), Shivani Kataria (women's 200m freestyle), Supriya Mondal (men's 100m butterfly), Damini Gowda (women's 100m butterfly).

The men's and women's 4x100m freestyle relay event will also be held tomorrow.

India won 10 gold and 12 silver swimming in the 2010 edition and Kumar said the hosts would hope to maintain that feat.

In cycling, T Vijyalakshmi and Manjit Singh will feature in women's 30km individual time trial and men's 40km individual time trial events tomorrow.

In football, India will take on Sri Lanka in their opening match at the SAI Center after the venue was shifted from the Nehru Stadium due to the poor condition of the pitch.

In kho-kho, India opened their campaign against Nepal in the men's competition and against Sri Lanka in women's event.