Asian Games: Satwik-Chirag make history, win first-ever gold for India in badminton

Hangzhou:The badminton courts at the Asian Games have witnessed many memorable moments but never this unique spectacle of two youngsters running amok, stunning a doubles pair from the Republic of Korea with their quick reflexes, precision shots and overwhelming powerplay.

The badminton annals at the Asian Games have also never witnessed an Indian pair win the gold medals. On Saturday, the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty made history by winning India’s first-ever gold medal in badminton at the Asian Games.

The crowd at the Binjuang Gymnasium in Hangzhou also had never witnessed two Indian guys dancing on court in celebration, seeing one of them, Shetty throw his sweat-drenched shirt, armband and even racquet into the crowd while his partner Rankireddy let it rip with a roar, telling the world that the Asian Games is now their domain.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty on Saturday, also managed to do something no Indian men’s doubles pair has ever done, win a gold medal in the Asian Games history when they defeated the Republic of Korea pair Choi Solgyu and Kim Wonho in straight games, 21-18, 21-16 to herald a new era for Indian badminton.

In the first game, the Indian pair trailed their more experienced Korean opponents, 3-6 and then at 4-7 as the Koreans as their more experienced Koreans made a superb start.

The Indian pair, which had defeated Malaysia’s Aaron Chia Teng Fong and Soh Wooi Yik in straight games in the semifinal played till late in the evening on Friday, stormed back into the match as they matched the Koreans point for point, as they reduced the margin to 7-10 and then 10-12. As the Koreans tried to stitch points together and the Indians matched them.

“We did not sleep the whole night before the final. We had a late match and were so excited having made it to our first final that I kept tossing and turning around in bed till five in the morning,” said Chirag Shetty.

The impact was visible as the Indians did not make a good start. “We did not get off to a good start but fought back. IThey put up a good night, created a lot of pressure on us but we managed to stay calm,” said Shetty, who was the more exuberant of the two Indian champions.

The Indians continued to reduce the margin and eventually won six points in a row from 16-18 to win the first game.

The Indians took an early lead and soon had a 7-3 advantage. They extended it to 10-6 and though the Korean pair brought it down to 10-12, Satwik and Chirag won four points in a row from 13-12 to make it 17-13 on Chirag Shetty’s serve. The Koreans won two points off Choi’s service but the writing was clear on the wall as they went on to win the second game 21-16 to clinch victory and a memorable gold medal.

This is India’s best-ever result in Asian Games badminton as the men’s team won the silver medal and H.S Prannoy won the bronze, India’s first medal in men’s singles since Syed Modi in 1982. – IANS

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