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India clinch silver in swimming

October 26, 2003 21:06 IST

Unfancied Arun Venkatraman came up with the most impressive show by the Indians to win the silver medal in the 50m backstroke in the aquatics event of the Afro-Asian Games on Sunday which saw more famed home swimmers struggling.

The 19-year old Venkatraman bagged India's fifth swimming silver in the 50m backstroke for men even though Rehan Poncha and the Millet sisters -- Nisha and Reshma -- clinched bronze medals in their respective events.

Continuing with their impressive medal hunt, Japanse swimmers finished top in four out of eight categories to take their gold medal tally from swimming to eight.

India's biggest disappointment came in the 200m women butterfly as talented 21-year old Richa Mishra failed to emulate compatriot Shikha Tandon, who clinched an Olympic berth on Saturday in 50m freestyle.

Richa, who has already won a silver in the 400m medley, came close to win a silver medal but struggled in the last 50 metres to finish fourth.

Korean swimmers Park Kyung Hwa (2 min 15.90 sec) and Shin Bo Mi (2:19.91) took the first two positions while Challena Van Wyk of South Africa (2:20.9) bagged the bronze.

Richa's efforts were fell short by  just 0.18 seconds to deny her the bronze medal.

Sunday's silver and three bronzes took India's medal haul from swimming to four silvers and five bronzes after two days of competition.

South Africa, China, Korea and Nigeria also took one gold medal each on a day where no world record or continental record were established.

Venkatraman got off to a good start from the beginning and surged ahead of all barring eventual gold medallist Mizuki Wakabayashi of Japan in no time. Though he tried hard to catch up with the Japanese swimmer, he failed in his endeavour and had to be content with the silver.

He crossed the distance in 28.20 sec as against Wakabayashis 26.05.

The third place went to Michael Mars of Philipines.

Poncha's dream of creating a splash in the pool by qualifying for the Olympics were dashed when he finished three seconds slower than the required time in the 200m butterfly.

He bagged the bronze medal in the the process, but the performace was not enough to carry him to next year's Athens Olympics.

Needing 2:04.56 for the qualification, he managed 2:07.90 behind Yohei Kato of Japan (2:03.96) and Algeria's Aghiles Slimani (2:05.92).

The Millet sisters had a fruitful outing as they bagged medals in the 200m freestyle and 50m backstroke events.

Nisha timed 2:07.56 for her bronze medal in her event which was won by Yingwen Zhu of China (2:06.45). Christane Zwiegers of South Africa took the silver with 2:06.72.

Reshma, who featured in the last event on the day, started off well but failed to overtake NigeriaFs Inyengin Kabo (31.68) and Philippines' Lianne Marice Marquiz (31.92) to finish a close third. She managed to cross the distance in 32.06.

Biswajyoti Brahma
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