It was a memorable Commonwealth Games campaign in Birmingham for Indian badminton as shuttlers from the country returned with a total of five medals in the individual events – three gold and two bronze.
After the mixed team event, in which India lost to Malaysia in the final and won silver, PV Sindhu and Co put in a fine performance to dominate the individual events.
Sindhu, who had won silver in women’s singles at Gold Coast 2018 and bronze at 2014 Glasgow, added the elusive CWG gold to her glorious collection with a straight-games win against Canada’s Michelle Li in the final. The 27-year-old had struggled with her left leg in the semifinal and played with some taping on it. In the final too, her movement wasn’t at its best but she got the job done 21-15, 21-13.
Lakshya Sen, who was competing in his first Commonwealth Games, then won the men’s singles title. The 20-year-old defeated Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong, who got the better of Srikanth Kidambi in the semifinals, again in a thrilling battle.
Sen lost the opening game with Ng dictating play and finding his mark consistently. But the Indian turned things around in style and won the next two games. In the second game, Ng had a dramatic drop in his level and Sen won 15 out of 16 points after trailing 6-8. It seemed the Malaysian would fight back in the decider but he couldn’t replicate the level he achieved in the opener and Sen went on to complete a 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 victory.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Srikanth had bounced back from his semifinal defeat to NG and clinched the bronze medal. The former world No 1 beat Singapore’s Jason Teh 21-15, 21-18 for the fourth CWG medal of his career.
In men’s doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty emerged as the champions. England’s Ben Lane and Sean Vendy had done a phenomenal job in knocking out Malaysian top seeds Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the semifinals.
In the final, though, the English pair couldn’t trouble Satwik and Chirag much despite there being some thrilling rallies in the contest. The Indians kept their nose ahead of the start and went on to complete a 21-15, 21-13 win. The duo had won silver in this event in 2018 but went a step ahead this time around.
It was India’s first ever men’s doubles gold medal in CWG history.
In women’s doubles, the young Indian pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand made their way to the podium with a fine performance late on Sunday. The two 19-year-olds were up against the Australian pair of Gronya Somerville and Hsuan-Yu Wendy in the bronze medal match.
Treesa and Gayatri showed great composure and despite being put under pressure in the second game, they went on to close out a 21-15, 21-18 victory.