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Yogeshwar Dutt’s won gold

Star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt notched up India’s fourth gold medal, while Khushbir Kaur became the first woman from the country to win a medal in 20km Race Walking by clinching a silver as India shot up to eighth in overall standings on the ninth day of competitions in the 17th Asian Games here today.

Besides, tennis players accounted for three bronze medals through Yuki Bhambri (men’s singles and men’s doubles with Divij Sharan) and Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thombare (women’s doubles). Middle-distance runner M R Poovamma won a bronze in the women’s 400m race.

It was yet another joyful day for the Indian contingent after yesterday’s rich haul of 10 medals and have now broken into the top 10 for the first time since the multi-discipline extravaganza began on September 19.

With the addition of six more medals today, India were placed eighth in the table with a collection of four gold, five silver and 24 bronze. China continued to maintain their supremacy with a tally of 207 (101-61-45), followed by South Korea (41-45-44) and Japan (32-44-44).

Medals won today aside, India can look forward to rich haul in the coming days as well with the women boxers assured of medals in all three weight categories. The men’s doubles tennis team of Sanam Singh and Saketh Myneni also assured themselves of at least a silver by advancing to the final.

Yogeshwar was star performer of the day as he better his 2006 edition bronze in style with a couple of splendid bouts. The Olympic bronze-medallist was trailing all through in his semifinal bout before coming good in the last few seconds to enter the final.

In the summit clash, Yogeshwar defeated Zalimkhan Yusupov of Tajikistan to expectedly pick the gold.

Earlier, Khushbir Kaur provided the early spark by becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal in race walking in the Asian Games as she clinched a silver in 20km event.

The 21-year-old from Amritsar clocked 1:33:07 to finish behind Lu Xiuzhi of China, who won the gold in 1:31:06, at the Marathon Course here.

The Indian, who holds the national record of 1:31:40, was consistently third till the 18km mark before going up a position in the final two kilometres, thanks largely to the slowing down of second-placed Chinese Nie Jingjing, who eventually finished fourth.

This is the biggest triumph of Khushbir’s nascent career after the bronze medal she won at this year’s Asian Walking Championships bronze in Japan. She was the first Indian woman to achieve such a feat.

In tennis, Yuki clinched India’s lone singles’ medal settling for a bronze in the men’s event after unforced errors cost him the semifinal clash against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. A profligate Yuki lost the match 6-3 2-6 1-6 in one hour and 46 minutes.

The Indian pair of Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thombare also settled for a bronze after losing their women’s doubles semifinal to Chinese Taipei’s Chin Wei Chan and Su Wei Hsiehin.

The fifth seeded Indian combo put up a brave fight before going down 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 10-4 to the Chinese Taipei duo, seeded second, at the Yeorumul Tennis Courts here.

Divij Sharan and Yuki Bhambri also bagged bronze after losing the men’s doubles semifinals to Yongkyu Lim and Hyeon Chung 6-7 (8) 7-6 (6) 9-11.

However, it was an all-win outing for the country’s women boxers. Olympic bronze-medallist M C Mary Kom led the charge as Indian women assured themselves of medals in each of the three weight categories.

Mary Kom (51kg), L Sarita Devi (60kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg) entered the semifinals of their respective weight categories with commanding victories.

Mary Kom gave a perfect start against Si Haijuan of China. Sarita, on the other hand, endured an energy-sapping slug fest against Mongolia’s Suvd Erdene Oyungerel but was a clear winner.

Pooja then rounded off an all-win day for the women by out-punching Shen Dara Flora of Chinese Taipei in her quarterfinal bout.

But the Indian recurve archers wrapped up a throughly disappointing performance after the women’s team lost a tense bronze medal match to Japan in a shoot-off here.

However, the Indians were seen performing well in the canoeing and kayaking competitions, reaching six out of 11 finals.

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