Table toppers Services completed their National Games campaign in a blaze of glory, winning five gold medals in the boxing ring at the Mahatma Mandir complex here on Wednesday.

While Services sent out five winners from among six boxing finalists, Haryana were left disappointed as only four of their eight pugilists on view on Wednesday emerged winners. With Nikhil Dubey, the lone Maharashtra finalist, claiming an emotional 75kg class gold, the Western Indian state was able to take the second spot on the medal table behind Services, who finished with 61 gold, 35 silver, and 32 bronze medals.

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Nikhil Dubey realised his late coach Dhananjay Tiwary’s dreams by pocketing the yellow metal with a 5-0 victory over lesser-known Malsawmitluanga of Mizoram in the men’s middleweight final. Coach Tiwary died in a road accident on Tuesday when on his way here to watch his ward in the final.

In Bhavnagar, Kerala completed a volleyball double, winning both the men’s and women’s gold medals.

Kerala men defeated Tamil Nadu 25-23, 28-26, 27-25 to clinch the last gold medal on offer in the Games.

Earlier, Kerala won the women’s Volleyball gold with a straight-set victory over West Bengal. The second set was thrilling as it was played over several extra points before Kerala closed it at 36-34.

At the Mahatma Mandir here, the Services juggernaut was well served by two-time Commonwealth Games medallist, Mohammed Hussamuddin (57kg), Etash Khan Muhammed (60kg), Akash (67kg), Sanjeet (92kg) and Narender (+92kg) in winning five Boxing gold medals on the final day of the National Games.

The featherweight Hussamuddin banked on brilliant counterpunches and combinations to beat Haryana’s Sachin Siwach 3-1 and lay his hands on the gold. The Telangana native cleverly defended himself from the World Youth champion’s aggression before seizing the momentum with clean punches.

Reigning Asian champion Sanjeet, determined to make his National Games debut a successful one after a rather unlucky Commonwealth Games campaign, forced the referee to give his State-mate Naveen (Haryana) a standing count of eight before clinching the bout with authority.

Earlier, National championship silver medallists Ankit Sharma (51kg) and Minakshi (52kg) boosted Haryana’s gold haul by winning the men’s and women’s flyweight finals, respectively.

Ankit gained a unanimous verdict over Himachal Pradesh’s Avinash Chandel while Minakshi, a 2018 Khelo India gold medallist, produced a similar verdict against Uttarakhand’s Shobha Kohli with clean punches to unsettle an opponent who was over-reliant on the counter-attack.

Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (Assam) got her jabs and combination punches working to perfection against Haryana’s Saweety Boora to cap her National Games debut with a memorable gold. Haryana and Assam sent out two winners each while Punjab’s Simranjeet Kaur took a redeeming gold in the 60kg category.

Lovlina Borgohain was happy with the switch to the 75kg division after the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. “I wanted to test myself in the new weight category. It isn’t easy to come back after an injury but I pushed myself to be match ready for the Asian Championships,” an elated Lovlina said.

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Earlier, former Asian Youth champion Ankushita Boro got Assam’s campaign to a flying start by clinching the gold medal in a one-sided women’s 66kg welterweight final against fellow Northeast boxer Alena Thounaojam (Manipur). Ankushita was all class against her unheralded opponent.

After a forgettable show at the Tokyo Games, Simranjit Kaur (Punjab) did well to win gold with a clinical 4-0 victory in the women’s lightweight final over Haryana’s Jasmine Lamboria, who looked a pale shadow of herself in the opening round. Jaismine, a Commonwealth Games bronze winner, tried to regain lost ground but it was too little too late.

In the women’s 57kg featherweight bout, Punjab’s Mandeep Kaur paid the price for starting defensively as Haryana’s Poonam gave herself a clear lead after the first two rounds to pocket the contest by a 4-1 margin.

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By Dipak

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