Kavita continues to sizzle, Services consolidate top position

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Tapan Mohanta

Ranchi, February 21 (PTI) Kavita Raut continued with hersizzling performance on the track as she shocked Asian Gamesgold medallist Preeja Sridharan for the second time in theathletics competition while Services consolidated their leadin medal standings in the 34th National Games here today.

Having earlier beaten Preeja for 10,000m gold, theconcluding day of athletics competition witnessed the25-year-old Maharashtra tribal girl notching up a double asshe pipped the national record holder from Kerala for the5,000m title.

In a repeat of the 10,000m final, Kavita trailed pastPreeja in the final run to stop the clock at 15:54.26 andshatter the 12-year-old Games record of Sunita Rani who had atiming of 16:05.36 in Imphal National Games.

Preeja''s timing of 15:54.98 also bettered the meetrecord.

Kavita had finished behind Preeja in both the 10,000m and5,000m in the Asian Games last year, settling for silver andbronze respectively.

In another upset of sorts, Indian sprint king AbdulNajeeb Qureshi was pushed to the third spot in 200m whenServices Nitin Kumar bagged the gold from Andhra Pradesh''s MManikanandaraj in a photo-finish.

Services also clinched the 4x400m relay gold as they wenton to add five more yellow metals to their yesterday''s tallyto take a commanding lead over their rivals with 44 gold, 33silver and 26 bronze in the medal standings at the end of theninth day of the competition.

Maharashtra were a distant second with 34-37-36 asManipur, gaining heavily from cycling and fencing, occupiedthe third spot with 30-19-19.

Star international cyclist Ch Rameshori Devi of Manipurwon her fourth gold, while fencing competition got underwaywith the North-eastern state bagging two more yellow metalthrough W Roji Devi and in the team event.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh marksmen dominated the shootingrange, picking up both the gold medals on offer today.

Another highlight of the day was promising Nagpurshuttler Arundhati Pantawane''s rise to stardom when sheclinched the women''s singles title after defeating P C Thulasiin the final. She had earlier stunned top seed Sayali Gokhalein the semifinals. .

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