Maharashtra continue to lead tally on day six

Tapan Mohanta

Ranchi, Feb 19 (PTI) Death of Kerala chef de missionSuresh Babu, an Olympian and 1978 Asian Games gold medalist,shook sixth day''s proceedings in the 34th National Games evenas the top three medal standings remained unchanged withMaharashtra, Services and Delhi leading the way.

The former India long jumper, a popular figure for hiscommitment to athletics, died of liver cirrhosis at a cityhospital in the morning as the day got off on a sad note.

Despite the heartbreaking news, the Kerala contingentshowed strong character to claim an overwhelming six gold --two each from athletics, water polo and cycling -- to shootthemselves to sixth position from yesterday''s 10th.

Kerala now have 16 gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze medalsas Maharashtra had another fine show to hold the pole positionwith 32-31-31.

Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) shooters made aclean sweep as they remained on second spot with 30-25-22.

Delhi were on third spot with 24-17-17 as they werechallenged by Manipur who had equal number of gold medalsalong with 14 silver and 15 bronze.

Richa Mishra and Virdhawal Khade hogged the limelighttotalling 11 and 8 gold each in swimming arena as the eventended under overcast condition.

Riding on Mahitha Mohan''s performance, Kerala clinchedtwo gold in cycling. Mahitha won the 3km individual pursuittitle and went on to bag her second gold when she along withKezia Varghese and Rajani Remanan won the team gold in sprint.

Kerala also bagged two gold in athletics when the women''squartet of Neethu Rajan, Priya P K, Shamna Muhammad and VSanthini Vallikkad clinched the 4x100m relay while SajeeshJoseph won the men''s 800m gold.

Kerala''s men''s and women''s teams ruled the waterpoloarena clinching both the titles as they totalled six goldmedals.

Commonwealth medallist Ashish Kumar dazzled in the men''sall round individual gymnastics competition winning the goldmedal.

Putting behind his disappointment after his Uttar Pradeshteam ended with a silver medal in the team competitionyesterday''s, Ashish notched up 83.95 points to take the yellowmetal, leaving behind Services Rakesh Patra for the silver.

Patra scored 79.80 points. Kumar''s state-mate AdityaSingh Rana (76.85) secured the bronze medal in the main fieldof nine gymnasts.

In late last night Maharashtra women won the artisticteam event with 219.45 points to edge past Bengal (211.95points) to make it seven gold from gymnastics. With 188.25points, Andhra Pradesh girls took the bronze.

Defending champion Orissa retained the title defeatinglast editions runners up Manipur 2-1 in the women''s footballat JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur. Bengal outclassedTamil Nadu through a solitary goal to took the bronze. MOREPTI TAP PVR BS ATK

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