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Nisha Millet sets new national mark

October 30, 2003 20:30 IST

Asian champion Nisha Millet's new national mark in the women's 200m backstroke was the highlight of India's performance on the final day of aquatics competition at the inaugural Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad on Thursday which saw the hosts finish ninth, winning 19 medals, though none was a gold.

The hosts' attempt to grab their first gold medal in the competition failed to take shape even though Akbar Ali Mir came close in the men's 200m backstroke. But in the end, Mir settled for a silver.

Shikha Tandon, who won a bronze medal in women's 100m freestyle, missed the Olympic quota by a whisker, finishing just 0.25 seconds outside the qualification mark.

She had already booked a place in Athens Olympics in the 50m freestyle.

Shikha, who started well, surging ahead of others by the half-way mark, failed to maintain her lead till the end.

"I was really feeling tired. I very well knew till the 80m mark that I was ahead. But somehow I just got tired and finished third. It is really disappointing," she told reporters.

Shikha ended with a bronze in a timing of 58.61 seconds behind Atsumi Yamada of Japan (57.92) and Christine Zwiegers of South Africa (58.00). The Olympic qualification mark is 58.36 seconds.

"It was so close. I was looking to qualify for 100m freestyle as well. I should have ended a second faster," said the 18-year-old whose personal best is 58.32.

The hosts had something  more to cheer about as Nisha bettered the seven-year-old national 200 metres backstroke record which was only good enough to give her a bronze medal.

She took the third spot in 2 minutes, 27.40 seconds, which was 0.6 seconds faster than the previous national mark, set in 1996.

Nozomi Kobe of Japan claimed the gold medal with a timing of 2:20.00s. The second place went to Bang Eun Gi of Korea (2:22.46).

Akbar Ali Mir clocked 2:12.66 in 200m backstroke to win the silver behind Yoshi Ki Kanno of Japan who took the gold in 2:07.64. The bronze medal was claimed by Mahrez Mebarek of Algeria (2:15.42).

"I had prepared hard for the competition and no doubt this is the biggest achievement of my career. I am quite happy with my showing in the tough competition," said the swimmer from Kolkata.

Among other Indians in the fray, Richa Mishra finished sixth in women's 50m butterfly, which was won by Lauren Sparg of South Africa and T Sujith finished eighth in men's 100m freestyle. The gold medal went to Takamitsu Kojima of Japan.

Rajeev Nair failed to impress in the men's 50m butterfly, finishing sixth with a timing of 26.52 seconds. Mizuki Wakabayashi of Japan won the gold.

Japan topped the medal table in swimming, clinching 20 medals, including 14 gold. South Africa finished a distant second with eight gold medals while China claimed five gold medals for their third-place finish.

India closed in ninth position with 19 medals -- eight silver and 11 bronze.

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