CWG Badminton: Saina Makes History, First Indian Woman to Win Gold

By Avishek Roy

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) Saina Nehwal created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win the singles gold in badminton at the Commonwealth Games as she saved a match point to beat Malaysian Mew Choo Wong 19-21, 23-21, 21-13 in an edge-of-the-seat thriller Thursday before a capacity crowd.

Legendary Prakash Padukone (1978) and the late Syed Modi (1982) were the two men players to win the singles gold in the Games.

Saina's gold came just hours after Jwala Gutta and Ashiwni Ponnappa also scripted history by becoming the first Indian pair to win the gold at Commonwealth Games. They defeated Singapore's Shari Shinta Mulia and Yao Lei 21-16, 21-19 in the final of the women's doubles.

India thus won two gold medals and one bronze (Parupalli Kashyap in men's singles) from the badminton courts of Siri Fort Sports Complex on the concluding day of the Delhi Games.

After Jwala and Ashwini sizzled with their brilliant show, the packed hall eagerly awaited for World No. 3 Saina to take the courts.

Saina looked nervous in the beginning, making a lot of errors, but regained her composure as the match wore on, playing like a champion. Wong broke free from 4-4 to open up a 9-4 lead. Wong led 18-14 and despite a late comeback by Saina, the Malaysian managed to win the first game.

The gripping second game, that went for 25 minutes, saw both players fighting tooth and nail. Saina trailed 1-4 but caught up with the Malaysian pocketing three points. From then on, the two played long rallies, waiting for the opponent's mistakes.

The game ebbed and flowed both ways but Saina made some errors and allowed the Malaysian to get an upper hand. The Indian faced a matchpoint at 20-19. The tension in the stands was palpable. There was huge sigh of relief when Saina saved the match point. She showed her mental toughness as she drew level and the crowd erupted in deafening roar.

Saina then looked in command in the decider. She played like the World No.3 even as Wong looked tired.

Saina cut down on her errors and made Wong run around the court. Showing good reflexes and net play, Saina finished off the points with clinical precision. She took five points in a row to lead 7-3, never looked back and finished the 70-minute thriller in style and ran towards her coach Pullela Gopichand, a former All England champion, to embrace him.

By then, the crowd was ecstatic and Saina acknowledged their support tossing her racket and towel into the stands.




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