A day to remember for Akbar Ali, Shikha and Rehan

MADGAON, JULY 6. National records kept pace with the rains as the 28th junior National aquatic championship got off to a heady start at the Fatorda swimming pool here on Friday. Bengal's Akbar Ali Mir and the Karnataka duo - Shikha Tandon and Rehan Poncha - swam into the record books and evoked profuse applause which muffled a steady drizzle.

Setting the pool on fire is not new to Akbar Ali. In fact, he revels in it. A seven-gold haul in the open Nationals at Kolkata proved to be an appetiser and he extended his form at the expense of Karnataka's Rohan D'Souza.

In the boys' Group I 200m individual medley, Akbar Ali kept increasing his lead to negate the pre-tournament hype on his showdown with Rohan. The Class X Kolkata student topped with 2:18.03s and obliterated Gaurav Kapoor's record of 2:20.31s, set in 1987. Akbar, however, was in for a shock in the subsequent 50m backstroke event as Tamil Nadu's V. Arun pipped him at 30.19s.

The 200m individual medley continued its tryst with records as Shikha Tandon edged past Delhi's Richa Mishra in the girls' Group I event. Shikha, a pre-university student at Bangalore's Jain College, trailed in the butterfly, backstroke and breast stroke segments until the final burst in freestyle. Shikha's timing of 2:29.10s nudged Nisha Millet's earlier record of 2:31.66s set in 1999. Nisha smiled from the stands when her record fell, and a beaming Shikha said, ``I had been preparing for my Class X exams and with the minimum training I had for this meet, I am extremely happy with this record.''

The Karnataka bandwagon's merry cruise continued as Rehan Poncha also dismantled a record - the day's third. In the Group II boys' 200m individual medley, he dug a lone furrow and emerged from the pool with a record of 2:17.27s, erasing Rohan D'Souza's 2:19.09 set in 2000. ``I wasn't racing with anyone today. It was just me there. Feels great,'' he said.

Ambica N.S. Iyengar added extra brownie points to reigning champion Karnataka. The Bangalore girl bagged two golds in the Group II 100m breast stroke and 200m individual medley events.

`Come on, Merwyn'

The day did have its share of upsets when Delhi's Merwyn Chen left Maharashtra's Arjun Muralidharan gasping in the Group II 200m freestyle. Merwyn, powered by strong shoulders and his father's `come on, Merwyn' yells, clocked 2:08.93s while defeating fancied Arjun at 2:09.58s.

The established names did have their say with Rohan D'Souza, Maharashtra's Amar Muralidharan and Karnataka's Reshma Millet winning one gold apiece.

In a reversal of roles, sub-junior champion Maharashtra trailed with four golds while favourite Karnataka topped the opening day honours with seven. However, it was a day when individual sweepstakes briefly swayed over team rankings as Akbar Ali Mir, Shikha Tandon and Rehan Poncha designed new signposts.

The results:


Boys: Group I: 50m backstroke: 1. V. Arun (TN - T: 30.19s), 2. Akbar Ali Mir (Ben - 30.55), 3. Varun Sethi (Del - 30.85); 100m breast stroke: 1. Rohan D'Souza (Kar - 1:11.35), 2. Anupam Sana (Ben - 1:14.79), 3. N.A. Krishna (Kar - 1:14.84); 200m freestyle: 1. Amar Muralidharan (Mah - 2:02.57), 2. Mandar Divse (Mah - 2:08.83), 3. Saviya Sachi (Kar - 2:12.52); 200m ind. medley: 1. Akbar Ali Mir (Ben - 2:18.03 (NR), old: 2:20.31, Gaurav Kapoor (Mah), 1987), 2. Rohan D'Souza (Kar - 2:22.14), 3. Riyad Palia (Mah - 2:25.10).

Group II: 50m backstroke: Samir Das (Ben - 30.98), 2. Sachin Bengre (Kar - 31.53), 3. M.S. Abhiram (Kar - 31.87); 100m breast stroke: 1. I. Shivanand (Mani - 1:14.99), 2. Gaiaik Barthan (Ben - 1:15.89), 3. Indrajit Bhowmik (Mah - 2:14.26); 200m freestyle: 1. Merwyn Chen (Del - 2:08.93), 2. Arjun Muralidharan (Mah - 2:09.58), 3. Saurabh Mundra (Mah - 2:14.26); 200m ind. medley: 1. Rehan Poncha (Kar - 2:17.27 (NR), old: 2:19.09, Rohan D'Souza (Kar), 2000), 2. Biplab Dey (Ben - 2:25.83), 3. Umapada Nashar (Ben - 2:25.88).

Girls: Group I: 50m backstroke: 1. Reshma Millet (Kar - 32.75), 2. Amritha Shetty (Kar - 35.39), 3. C. Bhavani (TN - 35.84); 100m breast stroke: 1. Bhavna Sharma (Mah - 1:22.45), 2. Madhura Patil (Mah - 1:23.63), 3. Saba Sait (TN - 1:23.94); 200m freestyle: 1. Amritha Shetty (Kar - 2:17.37), 2. Nisha Mohite (Kar - 2:19.63), 3. Avani Sawant (Mah - 2:20.77); 200m ind. medley: 1. Shikha Tandon (Kar - 2:29.10 (NR), old: 2:31.66, Nisha Millet (Kar), 1999), 2. Richa Mishra (Del - 2:33.30), 3. Bhavna Sharma (Mah - 2:40.65).

Group II: 50m backstroke: 1. Shruthi Reddy (Mah - 34.35), 2. Annie Jose (Goa - 35.21), 3. Minta Shah (Mah - 36.02); 100m breast stroke: 1. Ambica N.S. Iyengar (Kar - 1:21.13), 2. Swathi Murthy (Kar - 1:25.00), 3. Shruthi Gupta (Del - 1:25.30); 200m freestyle: 1. Ruksheen Palia (Mah - 2:22.94), 2. S. Arpitha (Mah - 2:46.70), 3. Prakruthi Rao (Kar - 2:26.00); 200m ind. medley: 1. Ambica N.S. Iyengar (Kar - 2:35.33), 2. Ruksheen Palia (Mah - 2:46.70), 3. Pooja Ghorpade (Mah - 2:51.10).

Water polo:

Boys: Delhi 5 (Dhruv Vats 2, Abhishek Verma 1, Shrish Aggarwal 1, Rajeev Tokas 1) bt Uttar Pradesh 4 (Navin Upadhya 1, Viver Awasthi 1, Virash Awasthi 1); Madhya Pradesh 12 (Gaurav Rathore 4, Gajendra Dikshit 4, Sunil Batham 2, Varun Gupta 1, Jai Joshi 1) bt Gujarat 7 (Mrulik Gajjar 3, Mehul Shah 2, Deepak Sharma 1, Sevan Patel 1); Karnataka 8 (S. Yogesh 5, S. Taisna 2, A.M. Arjun 1) bt SSCB 4 (Praveen Kumar 2, P.J. Sebastian 1, Terish Mon Thomas 1); Maharashtra 3 (Tamal Choudary 2, Sabu Prabhakaran 1) bt Rajasthan 0.