India’s Samiya Imad Farooqui came back from one game down to beat Indonesia’s Widjaja Stephani in the final of the Under-15 women’s singles category of the Badminton Asia Junior Championships. Farooqui, 14, won 15-21, 21-17, 21-19 in a match that lasted just under an hour at 56 minutes.
The unseeded Stephani, also 14 years of age, was totally dominant in the first game of the final against the third seeded Indian and had the lead throughout, but for the first point. She led 11-13 at the mid-game break and Farooqui knew she had a big task ahead of her to come back in the match.
Farooqui, who trains at the Pullela Gopichand Academy, came back stronger in the second game and held a 11-8 lead at the break, before Stephani levelled the scores at 13-13. It was neck and neck for a few points from there before Farooqui broke away and took the game 21-17.
Stephani started the deciding game as the stronger of the two, taking a 11-7 lead at the changeover to put the pressure back on the Indian. That lead was soon to become 16-12 and it looked like Stephani was running away with the match. However, this is when Farooqui won five straight points to make it 17-16 in her favour.
It was a tight and tense affair from then till the end, as Farooqui just about edged it 21-19 to clinch her first major international title. “I was nervous in the first game but regained confidence after some motivation from my coach and gave my opponent a tough fight,” Farooqui was quoted as saying by the Badminton Association of India after the match.
She added, “It was a tough match and went down to the wire. But I held on to my nerves and won it. I am very proud to win a gold for my country.”
This was also India’s fourth medal at the tournament but the only gold. The remaining three were bronze, won by Aashi Rawat (U-15 women’s singles), Keyura Mopati and Kavipriya Selvam (U-17 women’s doubles), and Ayush Raj Gupta and Shubham Patel (U-15 men’s doubles).
Farooqui was also India’s fourth gold medallist at the Badminton Asia Junior U-15 and U-17 Championships, after Siril Verma (2013 U-15 men’s singles), Chirag Shetty and MR Arjun (2013 U-17 men’s doubles), and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Krishna Prasad (2015 U-17 men’s doubles).