Commonwealth Games 2018: Saikhom Mirabai Chanu wins gold, P Gururaja silver

Gold Coast: Indian weightlifter Chanu Saikhom competes in women's 48kg weightlifting event during the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast, on Thursday. She won a gold medal in her category. PTI Photo
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, the 23-year-old weightlifter from Manipur, on Thursday opened India’s account of gold medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 by winning one in the women’s 48 kg category, with a combined effort of 196 kg. 

Breaking her six personal records in six lifts, Chanu not only made the country proud but also rewrote history, raising her own National record by one kg. 

The day started with weightlifter P Gururaja bagging the silver medal in the men's 56-kg category. 

Saina Nehwal showed total dominance against her Sri Lankan opponent and snatched victory in badminton. And in the men’s game, shuttler Kidambi Srikanth also won his first match. Also, India defeated Sri Lanka 3-0 in its first match in women's table tennis.

More than 4,500 athletes from 71 nations and territories are vying for 275 gold medals at the multi-sport event. Australia is hosting the Commonwealth Games for a fifth time.

The Indian contingent at the ceremony, consisting of over 200 athletes, is being led by flag-bearer P V Sindhu, the Rio Olympic silver medallist. The squad also includes double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar, and London Olympic bronze medallists Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and Gagan Narang.

Here is all you need to know: 

1) India thrash Pak 5-0 in badminton mixed-team event: After completing its clean sweep against Sri Lanka, the star-studded Indian badminton team continued its stellar form as it thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan 5-0 in its Group A clash of the Mixed Team event on the opening day of the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium in Gold Coast, Australia, on Thursday.  

In the first match, the Indian pair of Satwik Rankireddy and N Sikki Reddy eased past the Pakistan duo of Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti and Palwasha Bashir 21-10, 21-13 in a mixed doubles clash that lasted more than 35 minutes. 

Meanwhile, star shuttler Kidambi Srikanth continued his impressive form as he swept aside Murad Ali of Pakistan 21-16, 22-20 in the men's doubles event to hand India a 2-0 lead.

In the women's singles event, London Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal handed India a victory over Pakistan as she thrashed Mahoor Shahzad 21-7, 21-11 in a one-sided encounter that lasted just 26 minutes.

Subsequently, India's Pranaav Chopra and Chirag Chandrashekhar Shetty defeated Pakistan team of Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti and Murad Ali 21-9, 21-15 in the men's doubles event.

In the last match of the day, the women's doubles team of Ashwini Ponappa and Ruthvika Gadde displayed a spectacular performance as they clinched a comfortable 21-6, 21-10 win over Pakistan's Mahoor Shahzad and Palwasha Bashir to ensure a complete clean sweep for India.

Earlier in the day, the Indian badminton team defeated Sri Lanka 5-0 in Group A of the mixed team championship to begin its campaign at the prestigious Games on a promising note.

2) Indian Basketball teams lose on opening day: Cameroon made an astonishing comeback to outplay India 96-87 in men's preliminary round Pool B basketball match. Indian eves also suffered a 57-66 loss to Jamaica in the opening day of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 on Thursday. 

After scoring 27 points in the first quarter and then 36 in the second quarter, India only accumulated 24 in the entire second half against Cameroon.

At one point, India was leading by 24 points but an impressive game from Arnold Akola (21 points) and Robert Songolo (17 points) saw a comeback from Cameroon.

For India, Amjyot Singh scored 23 points while Justin Selvaraj and Joginder Singh scored 14 points. Aravind Annadurai scored 15.

Coming into the match, India started off perfectly, pressing the defence. Starting with star players Amjyot and Satnam Singh in the playing five, India took full advantage. Soon they managed to take the healthy lead of 12 points and maintained that through the quarter.

The second quarter saw some brilliant attacking from forwards Gill and Annadurai. Apart from them, guards Justin Joseph and Joginder Singh also combined for 25 points.

At halftime, India carried a 24 point lead (63-39) with the 26-year-old Gill scoring 14 points to lead the chart. Till that time, centre player Satnam Singh was not at his scoring best as he only managed to score five points.

India began the second half in a more attacking way, by netting a three-pointer within a few seconds. But soon after that, Cameroon went on a 10-2 run as they managed to cut the lead of 16 points making it 54-70.

At the end of the third quarter, Cameroon outscored India completely by some attacking game, led by Akola. India, on the other hand, felt the pressure but somehow kept the opponents at bay, keeping a 14-point lead.

3) Swimmers Khade, Nataraj disappoint in semis: India's Virdhawal Khade and Srihari Nataraj disappointed with eighth place finishes in the men's 50-metre butterfly event and 100-metre backstroke event semi-final 2, respectively, at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, on Thursday. While Khade could not recover from a sedate start in lane 1 and finished last, clocking 24.50 seconds, Nataraj did not fare any better in lane 8, reacting to the gunshot at 0.70 seconds and finishing in 56.65 seconds. 

In the 50-metre butterfly category, South Africa's Chad Le Clos, swimming in lane 4, topped with a finish of 23.53 seconds at the Optus Aquatic Centre. Australian Mitch Larkin was first in the 100-metre backstroke event clocking 53.15.  

4) Third seed Saurav Ghosal makes shock exit at CWG: India's top squash player and third seed, Saurav Ghosal, on Thursday suffered a shock defeat against Jamaica's Christopher Binnie in the men's singles second round of the Commonwealth Games. Ghosal squandered a two-game lead to go down to World No 65 Binnie 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 10-12. It was the biggest upset of the day in the individual event. 

Ghosal had lost the bronze medal play-off in Glasgow four years ago and looked set to better the feat in Australia this time, having reached a career-high rank of 13 at the start of the month. The 66-minute match had initially looked going Ghosal's way but Binnie fought hard. Varying his returns with clever deception, he had the Indian in a tangle.

The match went to the crucial decider. When points went close at 10-9 match point, Saurav thought he had gained a 'stroke' but the referee overruled it as 'let'. The Jamaican escaped and found the room to push back the Indian and grab the extra two points for a sensational win. It was the first time the two players met. 

5) Mixed day for India in squash events: It was a mixed day for India in the squash events as Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal and Vikram Malhotra advanced to the round-of-16, even as Saurav Ghoshal and Harinder Pal Sandhu suffered heartbreaking losses at the Commonwealth Games.  

In women's singles category, Chinappa outplayed Lynette Vai of Papua New Guinea 3-0 (11-3, 11-7, 11-2) in 13 minutes, while Dipika Pallikal overpowered Charlotte Knaggs of Trinidad and Tobago 3-0.

In the men's singles category, it was a cakewalk for Malhotra, who outplayed Manda Chilambwe of Zambia 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-2) in the round-of-64, and he only took 13 minutes to beat Xavier Koenig of Mauritius 3-0 (11-4, 11-3, 11-0).

Sandhu, who played handsomely in the round-of-64 match in which he outplayed Cameron Stafford of Cayman Islands 3-1, lost 0-3 (8-11, 6-11,1-11) in the round-of-32 to Malaysia's Ivan Yuen to end his run at the prestigious meet.

6) Indian table tennis players have it easy on day one: Indian paddlers started their campaign with comprehensive wins in all their group matches in the team event at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday. The men's team got the better of Northern Ireland and Trinidad & Tobago, thrashing them both 3-0, while the women's team defeated Sri Lanka and Wales 3-0, 3-1, respectively. 

In the second match of the men's team against Northern Ireland World No 46, Gnanasekaran Sathiyan gave India the early lead, crushing Ashley Robinson 11-4 11-6 11-4 in the first singles before India's most experienced paddler, Sharath Kamal, outclassed Paul McCreery in straight sets 11-6 11-8 11-4. The duo of Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai then beat the pairing of Zak Wilson and McCreery 11-2 9-11 11-5 11-7, giving India its second victory of the day.

Earlier, in the men's opening match against Trinidad & Tobago, Anthony Amalraj struggled a little in the first singles but managed to beat Dexter St Louis 11-5 3-11 11-2 14-12 before the in-form Sathiyan doubled India's lead, thrashing Aaron Wilson 11-5 11-5 11-4. Sathiyan and Desai then paired together to beat the pairing of Wilson and Yuvraaj Dookram 11-9 11-4 11-4, making it 3-0 in favour of the Indians.

"Everything was going really well. In the first game we were one up. We lost a few points but our tactics and what we were doing was really good," Sathiyan said after the win.

In the women's tie, India thrashed Sri Lanka 3-0. Manika Batra hardly broke a sweat in her 11-3 11-5 11-3 victory over Erandi Warusawithana in the first singles before Sutirtha Mukherjee made it 2-0 up for India with an easy 11-5 11-8 11-4 win over Ishara Manikku Badu. Sutirtha then paired with Pooja Sahasrabudhe in the doubles to notch up an 11-6 11-7 11-3 win against the Sri Lankan duo of Hansani Kapugeekiyana and Ishara Manikku Badu to wrap up the tie in style.

In the second women's group stage match against Wales, Manika beat Charlotte Carey 11-8 8-11 11-5 11-4 before veteran Mouma Das gave India a 2-0 lead by defeating Chloe Thomas 12-10 11-7 11-7. The pairing of Madhurika Patkar and Das suffered the only defeat of the day, losing to the pairing of Charlotte Carey and Anna Hursey 8-11 5-11 11-5 11-7 11-13. But Patkar got back to business ending the tie by getting the better of Chloe Thomas 11-3 11-4 12-10 in the last singles match of the tie and giving India a 3-1 win over Wales.

7) Boxer Manoj Kumar advances to Round of 16 in men's 69kg: Star boxer Manoj Kumar advanced to the round of 16 in men's boxing 69 kg category after convincingly thrashing Osita Umeh of Nigeria 5-0 by unanimous verdict at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday. The 2010 CWG gold medallist dominated from the start, using the technique of keeping his guard down, and drawing Umeh towards himself at the Oxenford Studios.

The first round witnessed Manoj using a few heavy right arm jabs to which the 19-year-old Nigerian hardly had any reply and it seemed like the 31-year-old Indian wasn't far from advancing to the next round.

Umeh started the second round with some good counter-punching, but Manoj used all his experience to block and keep his defence up.

Towards the end, it turned out to be an easy outing for the 2016 South Asian Games gold medallist Indian. 

8) Mirabai Chanu wins Gold for India

Mirabai Chanu smashed the Commonwealth and the Games record in snatch, pulling off clean lifts in all her three attempts (80kg, 84kg and 86kg). She then lifted more than double her body weight (103kg, 107kg and 110kg) in three successful attempts to claim the clean and jerk as well as the overall Games record. The showing helped her better the silver she had won in the 2014 Glasgow CWG. The Indian ended with a score of 196kg (86kg+110kg), earning a massive applause from the fans at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre.

9) First silver for India

The 25-year-old Gururaja equalled his personal best of 249kg (111+138) to finish second in a field where Malaysia's three-time Commonwealth Championships medallist Muhammad Izhar Ahmed (117+144) broke the Games record for snatch and overall lift.

Gururaja was third after the snatch, pulling off a best of 111kg after two good lifts before surviving a few nervy moments in clean and jerk. The Indian failed in his first two attempts before managing a good lift off his last chance to zoom to the top half of the table. 

10) All eyes on Saina Nehawal

Saina Nehwal snatched victory in the mixed-team badminton event against Sri Lanka. Saina beats Sri Lanka’s Madushika by 21-8, 21-4 to bolster India's lead to 4-0 over Sri Lanka. She maintained her dominance throughout the game.

Not a good day for Women's hockey

India was defeated 2-3 by lowly Wales on the first day of the women's hockey competition at the Commonwealth Games here on Thursday. This is the first time that India have lost to Wales in a major tournament.

Lisa Daley (7th minute) scored a field goal to hand Wales an early lead before Sian French (26th) converted a penalty stroke in the second quarter to double the advantage.

Aussie boxer becomes the first medallist in Commonwealth Games without a fight

Australian boxer Taylah Robertson has become the first medallist of the 21st Commonwealth Games without even stepping into the ring after she got a bye straight into the 51kg category women's semifinals.

The 19-year-old has got what is called the lucky medal due to the small size of her draw, luck that eluded Indians, including the celebrated MC Mary Kom (48kg), who will fight her quarterfinal contest on April 8.

"All the best," PM Modi wishes Indian athletes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to the Indian contingent for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, saying the whole country is behind the athletes.

"All the best to the athletes representing India at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games! Our sportspersons have worked tremendously hard and the Games will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase their talent. Every Indian is cheering for our contingent," Modi tweeted.

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