Dubai, April 30
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty today ended India’s 58-year-old wait for a gold medal at the badminton Asia Championships here.
The 2022 World Championships bronze medallists scripted a sensational comeback after an opening game reversal to edge past the Malaysian combination of Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi 16-21 21-17 21-19 in the men’s doubles pair title clash.
Dinesh Khanna is the only other Indian to claim the gold medal at the event, having achieved the feat when he beat Thailand’s Sangob Rattanusorn in the men’s singles final in 1965 in Lucknow. India’s previous best performance in the men’s doubles was a bronze-medal finish by Dipu Ghosh and Raman Ghosh in 1971.
Rankireddy and Shetty showed tremendous grit as they fought back after losing the first game and trailing 7-13 and 11-15 in the second and third games, respectively, to win their second title of the season. The two pairs came into the summit clash after sharing the honours in six meetings, with the Indians coming up trumps in the semifinals of the Swiss Open in March. “I am over the moon. We worked really hard for this medal and I am happy that we have finally won the title,” Shetty said.
Rankireddy said: “It’s a great feeling to win this tournament for the first time and I am sure we will win more such titles in the future. We will continue to work hard to bring laurels to the country.”
“Personally for me, it will take a lot of time to believe that we are the Asian champions,” he added. “I still don’t believe we are Thomas Cup champions. Good boost for us as we go into the Olympics qualification period.”
Meanwhile, Khanna said his wait finally ended. “When the Asia Championships take place, I do follow it closely and I have always been hoping that one of our players will be bringing home the crown but it didn’t materialise,” Khanna said. “So I am really excited that Satwik and Chirag have won this title and made us proud, because Asian championships become a virtual World Championships. My long wait for another Indian wining the title is over and let’s hope this tradition continuous,” he added. — PTI
I am over the moon. We worked really hard for this medal — Chirag Shetty
It’s a great feeling to win this tournament for the first time — Satwiksairaj Rankireddy