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Shikha sinks 100m backstroke National mark

By Khalyan N. Ashok

Railways' Akbar Ali Mir swimming his way to a new meet record in the men's 200m Individual Medley event in the 57th senior National aquatic championship at Kolkata on Saturday. — Photo: K. Gopinathan.

KOLKATA Sept. 20. There were four records on the day four of the 57th senior National aquatic championship at the Subhas Sarobar pool here on Saturday and three of them were accounted by Karnataka swimmers on the distaff side, including a National record by Shikha Tandon, while Akbar Ali Mir of Railways came up with the lone meet record in the men's section.

After three days of overcast conditions, the sun peeped through in the afternoon session and with the matching weather, there were sure some bright performances.

Shikha has made winning a habit and the Bangalore girl, who picks her events with care, makes sure that she gets a record in each one of them.

After her trail-blazing effort in the 50m freestyle on the second day, Shikha turned on the heat on her arch rival and team-mate, Nisha Millet to win the gold in the 100m backstroke, clocking 1:06.95.

She thus obliterated the meet mark of Sangeeta Rani of Delhi, who did 1:08.06 at the same venue in 1995 and her own National best effort of 1:07.82, clocked in the World championship at Barcelona in July.

Shikha's smooth start saw her grab the lead quickly and she turned did the turn in 31.9 seconds and simply kept going at a hot pace. Nisha came at 1:07.96, thus bettering the meet record, and Sumi Cyriac of Railways came third.

After two silver winning efforts in the 400m freestyle and the 100m butterfly earlier in the meet, V. Sivranjani, another talented teenager from Karnataka, struck gold in the 200m individual medley, which she won with a new meet record of 2:28.67, lowering Sangeeta Rani Puri's record of 2:32.03 set in 1995.

Sivaranjani raced to lead in the opening butterfly stanza in 31.13 seconds and kept the stranglehold on the race from then onwards. Team-mate Ambica N.S. Iyengar, who had won the event in the last National Thrissur, took silver at 2:32.02

Nisha came back for her third gold in the meet, winning her pet event 200m freestyle in 2:07.92, while improving her own meet record of 2:08.66 set in 1998.

Nisha warded off an early challenge from her sister, Reshma on the adjacent lane No. 5, to storm to lead in 1:03.72 after the first 100, and there was no stopping the 21-year-old Bangalorean, who later said that she would strive her best to make the Olympic cut in that event.

Nisha' effort, however, was outside her National best of 2:06.81 clocked in Australia prior to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

The 15-year-old D. Mrudula brought down the curtain on a memorable note for Karnataka, bagging the 50m breast stroke gold.

The action continued to be on low key in the men's section with records still a premium. But the local fans had to lot to cheer as Akbar Ali Mir, the Kolkata lad, who represents Railways, lowered the meet mark of 2:14.20 set by J. Abhijith in 1995, with a commendable time of 2;12.29.

Akbar Ali Mir was under pressure in breaststroke segment, in which Deepak Kumar Singh was marginally ahead, but Mir broke loose in the freestyle and coasted home.

Amar Muralidharan of Police, who came out of shadow of a drug ban not so long ago, came up with a winning display in the 200m display at 2:00.07, scuttling Services ace, T.A. Sujith's for a third gold in freestyle.

Amar also figured in the 4 x 100m medley relay victory of the Police squad, which also consisted of T.K. Senthil Kumar, Deepak Kumar and Arjun Muralidharan.

The results:

Men: 200m freestyle: 1. Amar Muralidharan (Pol, 2:00.07), 2. T.A. Sujith (SSCB, 2:00.80), 3. Rahul Batra (Kar, 2:00.85); 200m ind. medley: 1. Akbar Ali Mir (RSPB, 2:12.29. NMR, Old: 2:14.20), 2. Deepak Kumar Singh (Pol, 2:15.59), 3. Gairik Bardhan (Ben, 2:18.31); 4 x 100m medley relay: 1. Police (4:06.57), 2. Services (4:07.17), 3. Railways (4:11.80); Waterpolo (semifinals): Kerala bt Maharashtra 8-0 & Police bt Manipur 20-0.

Women: 200m freestyle: 1. Nisha Millet (Kar, 2:07.92. NMR, Old: 2:08.66), 2. Reshma Millet (2:14.64), 3. Remya (Ker, 2:22.55); 100m backstroke: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar, 1:06.95. NR and NMR, Old: NR: 1:07.82 and MR: 1:08.06), 2. Nisha Millet (Kar, 1:07.96 BMR), 3. Sumi Cyriac (Ker, 1:10.14); 50m breaststroke: 1. D. Mrudula (Kar, 37.12), 2. Madhura Patil (Mah, 37.26), 3. Bhawana Sharma (Pol, 37.72); 200m ind. medley: 1. V. Sivaranjani (Kar, 2:28.67. NMR. Old: 2:32.03), 2. Ambica N.S. Iyengar (Kar, 2:32.02), 3. Rishu Mehra (Pol, 2:36.11); Waterpolo (semifinals): Railways bt Bengal 8-5 & Services bt Police 13-9.

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