Ng. Soniya Chanu and A. Sandhya Rani Devi opened India's campaign in the weightlifting campaign with a silver and bronze medal in the 48 kg. division of the women's section on the opening day of the nine-day programme at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex here on Monday.

The Games' first gold medal, however, went to Nigeria whose 17-year-old school student Augustina Nkem Nwaokolo made a memorable international debut by setting three Games' records.

The slightly built Augustina proved too good for the Indian duo, both 30 years of age, by outclassing them in both snatch and clean and jerk for a record total of 175.

The Nigerian successfully lifted 77kg in her third attempt for a new mark in snatch event. In fact, she broke the previous record of 75kg, held by India's N. Kunjarani Devi since 2002, in her second effort when she lifted 76kg which she improved up on in her third attempt with 77kg.

Augustina also broke Kunjarani's clean and jerk and the total records when she lifted 98kg on her second attempt. This gave her a total of 175kg which bettered Kunjarani's record of 167kg set in Manchester in 2002.

Kujarani's clean and jerk record was 94kg set at Melbourne, 2006.

“I am very happy to win the gold medal by breaking all records,'' Augustina said later. “I am grateful to god. He made it possible.'' When asked how she could attempt 100kg in clean and jerk at such a tender age, she quipped, “I am capable of that. I have done it in practice at home.''

Bad luck

Soniya, who was projected as a sure gold winner in this weight class, attributed her failure to ill luck. “My failure to snatch 76kg on my second and third attempts put a lot of pressure on me,'' she admitted.

After clearing 94kg on her first attempt, the Uttar Pradesh police inspector opted for 103kg on her second attempt but failed.

The Indian was clearly under pressure and needed to clear 103kg in clean and jerk to surpass the Nigerian by 1kg and snatch the gold. She failed on her third attempt as well.

Sandhya Rani, who is employed by Central Reserve Police, and Zaira Zakaria of Malaysia, finished with a total of 165kg but the Indian's lesser body weight gave her the bronze medal. Sandhya weighed 47.73kg as against the Malaysian's 47.94kg.

India's Sukhen Dey came tantalisingly close to winning the men's 56kg gold medal but his brave attempt to hoist 146kg in his final attempt in the clean and jerk event failed. Thus the gold medal went to favourite Amirul Hamizan Ibrahim of Malaysia who totalled 257kg.

Dey, an army man from Pune, was second with a total of 252 and his teammate V. Srinivas Rao picked up the bronze medal with a total of 248kg.

Dey trailed the Malaysian by four kg after the snatch event. Going into the clean and jerk section, Ibrahim failed to lift 141kg in his second attempt. Dey snatched the opening to clear the weight and compelled his rival to go for clearance of 141 in his third which the Malaysian managed.

The weight was raised to 146kg for Dey. If the Indian had cleared the weight, he not only would have won the gold but also established a new record in his section.

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