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Pooniya Leads Clean Sweep Of Discus Medals, Vijender Shocked

 New Delhi, Oct 11: The much-hyped Indian boxing squad, led by Olympic medal winner Vijender Singh, flopped but the unheralded athletics contingent exceeded expectations when Krishna Pooniya led an unprecedented clean sweep of all the
PTI October 11, 2010 20:37 IST
PTI
 New Delhi, Oct 11: The much-hyped Indian boxing squad, led by Olympic medal winner Vijender Singh, flopped but the unheralded athletics contingent exceeded expectations when Krishna Pooniya led an unprecedented clean sweep of all the women's discus medals in the Commonwealth Games today.

Pooniya led a historic Indian 1-2-3 by hurling the disc to 61.51m and became the country's first woman in 52 years to win the gold on a day the Games was rocked by its first doping scandal when woman's 100m champion gold medallist Osayemi Oludamola of Nigeria returned a positive test for a banned stimulant.

Pooniya is the second Indian athlete after Milkha Singh (1958, Cardiff) to garner a gold in track and field events and her title enabled the country to equal its previous-best gold medal haul in Games history. The country had won 30 gold at Manchester eight years ago.

She swept the discus event with Harwant Kaur (60.66m) and national record holder Seema Antil (58.46m) bagging the silver and bronze to lift the host country's tally in athletics to a record seven.

However, the story that emerged from the boxing ring was disappointing with Vijender and three others biting the dust in the semis and settling for the bronze.

The consolation was the entry of southpaw Suranjoy Singh (52kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Paramjit Samota (+91kg) into the finals after winning their semi final bouts.

Suranjoy reached the gold medal round defeating Haroon Iqbal of Pakistan, Manoj Kumar made the title round  edging out Valentino Knowles of Bahamas and Samota outpunched F A Junior of Tonga.

The shock defeat of hot title favourite Vijender led the Indians to lodge a protest with the event's officialdom after the referee penalised the Indian star towards the fag end of the bout when he led narrowly.

Amandeep Singh (49kg), Asian champion Jai Bhagwan (60kg) and Dilbag Singh (69kg) also lost their semi final bouts and had to be content with bronze medals.

Women rifle shooters Tejaswini Sawant and Meena Kumari also grabbed the bronze in the women's 50 metres rifle prone event after logging one point less than the gold and silver medalists.

 World champion Tejaswini and her partner combined forces to aggregate 1168 points and stood one behind Scotland pair Jen McIntosh-Kay Copland as well as England duo Michelle Smith-Sharon Lee.

The tie between the two British teams for the top spot was separated by the count-back method with the Scots hitting the bull's eye more times than the English girls.

 Tejaswini, India's first world champion in shooting on the distaff side, shot 583 while Meena accumulated 585 to help India gain their 25th medal from the Dr Karni Singh range. The shooters' gold tally stood at 13.

The other major story of the day was the positive dope test, the first of the Games, by Nigerian Oludamola who tested positive for stimulant methylhexaneamine and was placed under provisional suspension pending a test of her 'B' sample.

 CGF President Michael Fennell announced in the morning press conference that it was the first positive dope case to have come out here and that under anti-doping rules of the Games she had been handed a provisional suspension.

 "Under anti-doping procedures she has been notified and she has requested for a 'B' sample testing. The 'B'sample testing will be done today and her hearing will also be held today," Fennell said.

Asked whether the gold medal has been taken back from the Nigerian, the CGF chief said, "At the moment no decision has been taken about the medal. She has been put under provisional suspension."

The gold Oludamola won came in dramatic circumstances when Australian Sally Pearson was stripped of her medal in the women's 100m sprint for a false start.

The Nigerian had crossed the finish line in second place behind the Aussie woman and was later awarded the gold when Pearson was punished for jumping the gun.

Pooniya's epoch-making athletics gold, the three silver and six bronze medals won today boosted India's tally to 30-23-27 which kept the host nation firmly entrenched in the no. 2 spot behind Australia.

In third spot were England, who did not add to their overnight gold haul of 26 and have also scooped up 47 silver and 34 bronze medals. Canada (23-15-26) were in fourth position.

India have aimed to end the Games on October 14 in second place. PTI