Kashyap takes a golden step

Kashyap takes a golden step

Shuttler wins men's singles title in thriller; Jwala-Ashwini claim silver in doubles

Kashyap takes a golden step

Parupalli Kashyap etched his name in the history books by becoming the first Indian male shuttler in 32 years to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, but the women’s pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa had to settle for a silver, here on Sunday.

A bronze-medallist at the Delhi Games, Kashyap rose to the occasion to eke out a thrilling 21-14, 11-21, 21-19 triumph over Derek Wong of Singapore in the final showdown, which lasted over an hour.

The 27-year-old from Hyderabad thus joined badminton legend Prakash Padukone and the late Syed Modi, who had won the title in the past. 

However, 2010 gold medallists Jwala and Ashwini failed to recreate the magic as they were beaten 17-21, 21-23 defeat against the Malaysian combo of Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon in the 41-minute summit clash at the Emirates Arena here.

Kashyap, whose route was clear once Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei pulled out of the tournament, was rewarded for his attitude. 

In the first game, Kashyap was leading 14-8 before Wong came back with the help of some precise smashes to gather four straight points. But the Indian soon turned the tables.

Kashyap put pressure on his opponent and upped the ante to take an 18-12 lead. Kashyap, whose towering smashes were in full flow, quickly closed out the first game. 

However, it was a different story in the second game as Wong changed his gameplan and started penetrating Kashyap’s defence to lead 11-6 at the interval. Kashyap committed too many unforced errors while Wong soon went ahead 15-8 before levelling the match at one game apiece. 

Kashyap started the decider on a positive note. His smashes were more accurate and he judged the shuttle well. With the match decisively poised at 14-14 in the decider, Wong found the net to give the Indian the advantage. Kashyap then went on the offensive to lead 19-16 but Wong came back to level at 19-19.  The Malaysian, though, made two unforced errors to hand Kashyap the gold.

In the women’s doubles final, Jwala and Ashwini paid the price for committing too many unforced errors as they first blew up a narrow 15-13 lead in the opening game, before wasting a four game-points in the second game.

The Indians could have taken the match to a third game as they were ahead in the second. But the Malaysians hung in there and saved four game-points with precise smashes before sealing the match. 

After the match, Jwala admitted that she had committed errors.  “From my side there were a lot of mistakes,”she said. “I should have controlled from the net but I wasn’t doing my job. The excitement was too much, and from that the pressure also builds.”

“For me every point is important. We have to learn from every win or loss but I would proudly say we have played consistently,” she added.

Ashwini said although she was “irritated” with herself during the match, she was happy to pocket a silver. “We gave it our best. I was irritated with myself at the time but now I’m happy after winning silver,” said Ashwini.