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Live Blog: CWG 2018, Day 5
This is the country’s first mixed team badminton gold at any edition of the CWG, and it has come under the expert tutelage of Dronacharya Pullela Gopichand, who was the recipient of the Times of India Sports Award (TOISA) Mentor of the Year award in February for his role in turning India into a global badminton force. Of the shuttlers who helped win India this gold at the Carrara Sports Arena 2 on Monday, Srikanth, Saina and Rankireddy are Gopichand’s pupils.
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Putting India on course for gold was the mixed doubles’ pair of Rankireddy and Ponnappa, who beat Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh 21-14, 15-21, 21-15 in the first match-up. Then came a mouth-watering clash between World No 2 Srikanth and three-time Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei, which the Indian shuttler took 21-17, 21-14 for his first win over the Malaysian icon in five career clashes. Srikanth – who was named TOISA Badminton Player of the Year for his record-breaking success in 2017 – rarely let Wei settle, and his trademark returns and smashes were on ample display in a straight-games win.
Up 2-0, India looked to the men’s doubles pair of Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty to seal gold, but they were beaten in straight games 15-21, 20-22 by V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan.
That shifted the focus to World No 12 Saina and the 2012 London silver medalist did not disappoint, beating Soniia Cheah 21-11, 19-21, 21-9 to take India’s overall medal tally at the ongoing CWG to 19.
Team India entered the final at Gold Coast having beaten Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Scotland, Mauritius and Singapore.
Saina – who was the recipient of the Youth Icon award at the inaugural TOISA in 2015 – had won an individual gold in the 2010 CWG in New Delhi and mixed team silver and bronze in 2010 and 2006 respectively, while Ponnappa was part of the women’s doubles pair that won gold in 2010 and silver in Glasgow, apart from a mixed team silver in 2010.