Ramananda Sharma won the host nation's first gold medal in diving at the 10th Asian Age Group Championships being held at Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru.
A trainee of the Army Sports Institute in Pune, 21-year-old Sharma secured 300.80 points in the 1-metre springboard event for open category men to win the gold while his compatriot Siddharth Pradeshi bagged the bronze medal with a total score of 272.25 points. Valipour Mojtaba of Iran took home the silver medal in this event.
Indian divers also added three silver medals to India's tally of 52 medals won in swimming which comprised 15 gold, 19 silver and 18 bronze medals. "It's extremely exciting to participate and also win in front of our home crowd. We have been training under Cuban coach Salazar Despaigne who was a semi-finalist at the Sydney Olympics in 3m springboard. We have improved tremendously under him and we are confident of a good show here," stated Ramananda Sharma after winning his gold medal. Sharma had won one gold and one silver in the previous edition of the Asian Age Group Championships held in Uzbekistan while Pradeshi had won three gold medals.
Speaking about an upsurge in Indian divers' performance, Pradeshi said, "For the first time in 34 years, India had participation at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year. There, Ramananda and I finished 6th in 3m springboard synchronised diving and I also finished 6th in 1m springboard individual event. Working under coach Salazar has helped us a lot. His technique and work ethics are on par with other nations who are dominant in diving. Our performance at the 2018 Asian Games has given us a lot of confidence to do better in International meets. We are very confident if we continue like this we stand a chance of making the qualification for 2020 Tokyo Olympics," stated Pradeshi who, along with Sharma, is training for the World Military Games in March next year.
In the 3m synchronised diving for men (group A and B combined), Satish Kumar Prajapati and N Willson Singh bagged a silver medal with a total score of 217.26 ahead of Thailand's Thitipoom Maskin and Conrad Yoseph who scored 216.75. Yang Ling and Zhu Yongxin of China won gold in this event.
Palak Sharma of India won silver in 1m springboard for girls group C with total points of 186.70 points while Sudirman Nur Nufidah of Indonesia bagged the gold and Wai Ki Chan Hong Kong won bronze. In the same event for group C boys, Invider Sairem of India won silver with total points of 269.45 while Sugimoto Ruon of Japan won gold (274.65 points) and Jamshidi Mohammad of Iran (232.70) won bronze.
The opening day of diving events at the 10th Asian Age Group Championships witnessed 94 divers from across 14 countries including Hong Kong, Japan, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Qatar, Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, Sri Lanka and hosts India taking part in the open category, group A, group B and group C.
(Our News Desk can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)