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Remembering Sachin Nag, the first gold medallist at 1951 Asian Games

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Legendary swimmer Sachin Nag.

We are grateful to G.C. Das, an international journalist and water polo player from the National Swimming Association, West Bengal, for sharing his memories of the late Sachin Nag whose achievements brought many laurels to India. Das recalls the days of contesting against Sachin Nag in water polo tournaments in the years 1954-56, feeling fortunate for the opportunity.

Sachin Nag, the legendary Indian swimmer, was born on 5 July 1920 at Bengali Taula, Varanasi. He was born to a very poor family and his swimming talent was scouted by Jamini Dass in 1937 in Varanasi. Dass was the captain of the Indian water polo team during the 1948 London Olympics. Nag was taken to Kolkata by Jamini Dass, where Nag not only stayed at his home but also enjoyed his meals with him.

Jamini Dass started nurturing this excellent talent who was not only intelligent but also a good swimmer and an excellent water polo player. Dass then took Nag to the Hatkhola Club in 1938 from where he started his swimming career. It was also where Bijiten Bose was training Indian national swimming champions like Santosh Bhattacharya, Gour Mukherjee, Arati Saha (who was the first female Indian swimmer to cross the English Channel and the first sportswoman to receive the Padma Shri) and her sister Bharti Saha.

 Sachin Nag was the champion in 100 meters freestyle for eight straight years in the Bengal State Swimming Championship, thrice at the All India Swimming Championship, and was the first Asian Champion. In 1942, Nag had also emerged as a champion in 100 meters freestyle by defeating the then champion, the late Dilip Mitra, another legendary Indian swimmer who had clocked at 1 minute 04 seconds. Nag’s timing had been 1 minute 02.50 seconds. This record stood in his name for 31 years in swimming history. An interesting fact to note about the record is that in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Johnny Weissmuller had shocked the sports world by winning five gold medals and a bronze medal in water polo by clocking in at 59 seconds in the 100 meters freestyle. Imagine Johnny Weissmuller had clocked at this time with all the latest scientific equipment and training, whereas Sachin Nag had clocked at 1 minute 02 seconds (or 62 seconds) without any such facilities! Hereby, it must be mentioned that if Nag had practised with the same set of equipment and training as Johnny Weissmuller, then he would have possibly won a gold medal at the Olympics for India.

 In 1951, the first Asian Games were held in New Delhi and the swimming events were conducted at the then National Stadium Swimming Pool near the Delhi High Court. On 7 March 1951, at 2 pm, Sachin Nag stood first and won the gold medal for India in the 100 metres freestyle event. Interestingly, this medal was the very first gold medal for India in swimming to date, and at the same time, it was also the first medal won at the Asian Games! The event was witnessed by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, along with her daughter, Indira Gandhi, Lady Mountbatten and Ramanath Ghosh, who was the General Secretary of the Swimming Federation of India. They had all cheered for Nag with the slogan “Cheer up, Sachin Nag, cheer up!” After the win, the PM had gone straight to Nag and given him a shoulder hug.

 In this golden race, Nag came first, with a time of 1 minute 04.7 seconds.

 G.C. Das also remembers Nag’s words on how he felt when PM Nehru had hugged him. Nag said, “You cannot imagine how much I had enjoyed it.” Later, once when he was asked what the most memorable day of his life had been, Nag had said, “When PM Nehru rushed towards me without caring about protocol and gave me a shoulder hug and his most beloved red rose from his Jawahar coat!”

Other than that, Nag was also a great water polo player who had represented India in the 1948 London Olympics and 1952 at Helsinki. He was an excellent water polo player, and in the year 1951, had won the Bengal State Water Polo Championship, representing Hatkhola Club and defeating the National Swimming Club by 10-3. Nag alone had scored 8 goals, while Jamini Dass and Mohit De had scored one each! At the London Olympics in 1948, Nag scored 4 goals out of, defeating Chile by 3 goals! At an invitational water polo tournament against the US Forces, he had scored two goals, defeating the US forces 13-4. Then against the British team, he had scored six goals, defeating the Britishers, 15-1, and helping his Hatkhola Club become the League Champion.

At the Siri Fort Games Village built during the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, a separate residential block has been named after him in his honour.

In 1955, he played his last nationals, held in Kolkata, and participated only in 4x100m freestyle relay, where Bengal stood third, Bombay second and Services first.

The Writer is Licence B holder, DSV Germany Swimming Federation.

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Ritu Phogat goes down to Tiffany Teo in One Championship

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India’s Ritu Phogat went down to local favourite Tiffany Teo the ONE Championship’s ONE 161 via submission at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.
Ritu, making an appearance in the championship for the first time after her loss to Stamp Fairtex on December 3, 2021 did not have the best of the nights as she went down to Tiffany in the atomweight category via submission with just eight second remaining on the clock in the first round.
The competitors began the bout on a cautious note. It was the Singaporean who launched the first offence as she targeted Ritu leg’s with kicks, while the Indian landed good overhand rights. After the initial back and forth action, Tiffany put Ritu down on the mat and applied the Rear-Naked Choke. Ritu did not have much choice and eventually tapped out to suffer her third career loss.

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Doubles in badminton is a specialisation: Chirag Shetty

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Ahead of the National Games 2022, we spoke to Chirag Shetty about his career so far and the bond that he shared with Satwik.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. Satwik and you will represent different states and will rather team up against each other. Tell us about it and how much will you miss him?
A. Definitely. We are used to being together for all the interviews. So yeah, I am missing him. Because, this time the focus is national games and we are representing our respective states.
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Q. Tell us about the camaraderie that you and Satwik share.
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Q. What do you think the Government should do to promote sports in the country?
A. Well, right now everything is going in the right direction if we talk off sports. It has been phenomenal. I remember our PM asking us after the Olympics to spare some time and meet young kids of different schools near our local areas, districts etc and promote fitness and sports there. And this is implemented too. So, I am satisfied.

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‘Would aim to stop team from scoring early goals in World Cup’

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Arshdeep is complete package: Reetinder Singh Sodhi

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Arshdeep Singh

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Arshdeep was the pick of the bowlers for India and he ran through the South African top-order to have them reeling at 9-5 at one stage. He was superb with the new ball and his wickets never allowed South Africa to get back into the match and they eventually ended their innings at 106-8.
The young Punjab speedster ended the match with figures of 3-32 in four overs. His performance is being applauded by pundits and experts including former Indian international Reetinder Singh Sodhi.
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Talking during a cricket special show on India News presented by Dafanews, Sodhi said, “His morale was really down post Asia Cup but the way he performed in this match talks a lot about his mentality. He overcame all that happened during the Asia Cup and made a brilliant comeback. He is mentally very strong which is a sign of a good player.”
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“South African batsmen had no clue what the bowlers were doing. They lacked technique and they were not able to move their feet well against the moving ball. To play on these kinds of tracks, one needs to have sound technique and be precise with his shot selection which was nowhere to be seen when they were batting,” Sodhi explained.
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“This is the kind of bowling which is required in Australia for the T20 World Cup. The way Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep bowled in the match, it shows the options and depth in Indian bowling attack,” he added.

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Suryakumar Yadav becomes India’s leading T20 run-getter in calendar year

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He has overtaken the tally of Shikhar Dhawan’s 689 runs at an average of 40.52 in 2018. The left-hander had scored six half-centuries in 18 matches.
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Suryakumar also is the fourth-highest run scorer in T20I cricket in a calendar year, behind Ireland’s Paul Stirling (748 runs in 2019), Pakistan skipper Babar Azam (939 runs in 2021) and number one T20I batter Mohammad Rizwan from Pakistan (1,321 runs in 2021).

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Bumrah likely to be ruled out of T20 World Cup

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Jasprit Bumrah

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Bumrah, who had also ruled out of the Asia Cup 2022 due to his back problem, and was training at the National Cricket Academy, played the last two T20Is against Australia. He was far from his best in the series and in the last match of the series gave away 50 runs in his stipulated four overs, which is the most expensive T20I figures.
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