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Ten years his elder, the World No 7 Chong Wei marked his final appearance at the CWG by coming back from defeat in the first game to beat Srikanth 19-21, 21-14, 21-14 in the finals of the men’s singles at the Carrara Sports Arena 2. Crucial to this was forcing the decider with a dominant second game in which he repeatedly left his opponent struggling to retrieve the shuttle and looking bereft of ideas.
Srikanth still took home a silver, his first individual medal at the CWG, which extended to 65 India’s tall at the Gold Coast Games to beat the mark of 64 set four years ago at Glasgow. This is India’s most successful CWG ever, following the 101 medals won in Delhi in 2010.
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Srikanth narrowly took the opening game, with Chong Wei keeping himself in the hunt with his vault of experience. Powerful smashes and deft retrieves were on ample display from the two shuttlers, with neither allowing the other to break away with significant leads.
In the second game, however, Chong Wei’s longevity was to the fore as surged ahead of Srikanth 17-13 and then closed it out 21-14. In the decider, Chong Wei upped his game in bullish manner to take a 7-1 lead and rarely let Srikanth settle, with some exceptional returns and smashes leaving the Indian sprawled on the court.
Having beaten Chong Wei for the first time in his career during the mixed team event earlier this week, Srikanth was left frustrated by the Malaysian badminton legend’s exceptional court play in the last game.
Four years ago, Srikanth had contested his first Commonwealth Games as a 21 year old and was eliminated in the opening round. Entering his second CWG aged 25, Srikanth looked an entirely different player following a sensational 2017 in which he became the first Indian shuttler to win four Superseries titles and moved to a career-high No 2 in the BWF men’s singles rankings.
The recipient of the Sportsperson of the Year Award at the third Mahindra Scorpio Times of India Awards (TOISA) in February, Srikanth played a leading role for the Indian team that won the country’s first mixed team gold medal earlier this week and then breezed his way into today’s final with Chong Wei.