SSCB reign supreme as Natl Games draw to a close
Ranchi: A Sharath Kamal and Madhurika Patkar walked away with the last two gold medals on offer on the concluding day but the Services Sports Control Board reigned supreme with a whopping 70 golds as the much-delayed and controversy-ridden 34th National Games came to an end here.
Services topped the charts in shooting, rowing, canoeing and kayaking as they rounded up with 70 gold, 50 silver and 42 bronze for a total of 162 medals to emerge overall champions for a second time in succession.
In the previous National Games also, Services emerged toppers with a haul of 59 gold, 46 silver and 37 bronze medals.
Power-packed performances in wushu, cycling and fencing enabled Manipur to retain the second spot with 48-37-33.
Haryana (42-33-40) finished a creditable third riding on a spectacular show by their wrestlers who earned the state 14 gold medals.
They also topped the boxing competition claiming seven gold medals along with Jharkhand, something that ensured that the host state finished the Games at a commendable fifth place with a haul of 33-26-37.
Jharkhand ruled the roost in lawn bowls and taekwondo where they bagged four gold medals each.
With 13 gold from swimming, Maharashtra edged out Delhi as they ended on fourth spot with 41-44-47.
In terms of individual brilliance, swimmer Richa Mishra won the highest -- 16 medals including 11 gold -- as her spectacular show helped Delhi conclude their campaign with 32-26-41 on sixth position.
Coming back after a doping controversy ahead of last year`s Commonwealth Games, the 27-year-old showed tremendous resilience as he competed in all the 17 individual swimming competitions, winning 11 of them.
Richa came very close to breaking Nisha Millet`s feat of 11 gold medals in Manipur Games (1999) but in the end she had to be content with an equal number of titles.
Poster-boy of Indian swimming, Virdhawal Khade was not far behind as he grabbed eight gold medals, all of them with Games record timings, two silver and an equal number of bronze that helped Maharashtra`s cause immensely.
Swimming arena witnessed the rise of Gagan A P as the Karnataka long distance swimmer showed utmost endurance winning six gold medals, beside pocketing two silver.
There were also excellent performances from Manipur`s Ch Rameshori Devi (cycling), Kerala girl Simimol (canoeing and kayaking), Dipa Karmakar representing Tripura in gymnastics and Services` Sanjeev Rajput (shooting) who returned with five gold medals each.
The Games also sprang some heart-breaking upsets that meant the rise of upcoming stars.
Taking their healthy rivalry to a new high, tribal Maharashtra girl Kavita Raut pipped long-distance queen Preeja Sridharan both in 10,000m and 5,000m events for the titles.
Kerala sensation Preeja had beaten Kavita in 10000m and 5000m winning gold and silver in the Asian Games Guangzhou November 2010. The Maharashtra girl had to be content with silver and bronze respectively.
In another big stunner, Kuldev Singh from Punjab shocked Guangzhou Asian Games gold medalist Joseph G Abraham in the 400m hurdles for the top spot.
Leaving behind her bitter memory of Commonwealth Games, where she returned empty-handed, Indian star jumper Mayookha Johny returned to form winning two gold medals for Kerala in long jump and triple jump.
Mayookha`s success meant disappointment for Commonwealth Games silver medalist M A Prajusha who had to be content with a second place in triple jump.
In another upset in athletics, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and national record holder Renjith Maheswary was pushed to third spot in triple jump as Arpinder Singh (Punjab) bagged the gold with a Games record.
His state-mate Amarjeet Singh, representing hosts Jharkhand, was second ahead of Renjith.
Riding on their show in track and field events, Kerala the hosts of the next National Games ended on seventh spot with 30-29-28.
The creme de la creme of Indian archery, including Asian Games silver medalist Tarundeep Rai and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Deepika Kumari, had to bite the dust in the most shocking part of the Games.
Deepika lost to promising Assam girl Prativa Boro in the women`s recurve final, while Tarundeep made a round two exit from men`s recurve that witnessed a surprise winner in old warhorse Muni Ram Tirkey of Bengal.
On the final day, Indian table tennis star Achanta Sharath Kamal and Madhurika Patkar completed a hat-trick of gold medals, winning the men`s and women`s singles titles respectively.
Sharath Kamal clinched the men`s singles title without much fuss, while Madhurika Patkar stunned national champion K Shamini for the women`s singles gold as it gave the last upset of the Games.
Having won the team gold for Tamil Nadu and mixed doubles title with Shamini, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist and world no 40 did not break sweat as he defeated Bengal`s Anirban Nandi 4-0.
Sharath Kamal`s three-gold effort helped Tamil Nadu top the table tennis medal tally at 12th place with a haul of 14-12-27.
Maharashtra girl Madhurika, on the other hand, faced a stiff resistance from the Tamil Nadu girl before wrapping the issue 4-3.
Thane girl Madhurika had earlier won the women`s doubles gold with Pooja Sahasrabudhe and the team gold.
Death of Olympian and 1978 Asian Games gold medallist Suresh Babu, who was here as Kerala chef de mission, formed a bitter memory of the Jharkhand Games.
Champion athlete Suresh Babu, who had inspired a lot of youngsters to take up athletics in the 1970s-1980s, died at a city hospital on February 19.
Put up at the Khel Gaon near the Mega Sports Complex in the outskirts of the city, Suresh Babu fell ill in the morning as he vomitted blood and was rushed to the hospital where doctors declared him dead of liver cirrhosis.
Holder of national titles in jump events and decathlon, dominated the track and field between 1972 and 1979 as he was conferred with Arjuna Award.
But his biggest moment of glory came in the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok when he went on to grab the long jump gold.
The news of his death came as a big jolt to Kerala as he was actively involved with the state staging the 35th edition of the Games.
444 gold medals were up for grabs from 33 competitions of the 34th edition of the Games that finally ended after a tumultuous build up and controversy-ridden 15 days.
After a delay of four years and six postponements -- since the previous edition in Guwahati in 2007 -- the Games was finally but much of the sheen was lost because of the odd-time fixture that clashed with the ongoing ICC World Cup in the sub-continent.
Organisational chaos, including lack of information flow and inefficiency in staging the big event dogged the Games, even as state of the art infrastructure at the sprawling Mega Sports Complex was put in place by the Jharkhand Olympic Association that came as the only bright spot in these Games.