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Rediff.com  » Sports » Saina stages grand rally to win badminton gold

Saina stages grand rally to win badminton gold

Last updated on: October 14, 2010 17:22 IST

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Top seed Saina Nehwal became the first women Indian shuttler to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games after a gruelling three-game victory over Malaysia's Mew Choo Wong in the badminton singles event, on Thursday.

World No 3 Saina bounced back after losing the first game to beat Wong 19-21, 23-21, 21-13 in a nerve-wracking 70-minute women's singles title clash at the Siri Fort Sports Complex.

Earlier, second seeds Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa beat the top seeded Singapore pair of Sari Shanti Mulia and Yao Lei 21-16 21-19 to take the women's doubles gold.

Saina NehwalAparna Popat won a silver medal in the women's singles event at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998, while Prakash Padukone was the first Indian to win a gold, at the 1978 Edmonton edition, followed by Syed Modi, the last shuttler to win a gold in the quadrennial event, in the 1982 Brisbane Games.

In the first game, Saina found it difficult to judge the shuttle and lost a few points in the forecourt and net. The game slipped out of her hands after she trailed 8-11.

But the Indian came back strongly in the second. She started playing more cross-court shots and kept pushing the shuttle at the back in the long rallies to come back from a 0-2 deficit and lead 14-10.

But Wong narrowed the gap and wrested the lead at 21-20 before the Indian closed the game with two more points to roar back into the contest.

In the decider, Saina employed similar strategy and kept her opponent away from the net. She used her deceptive drops and tosses to take a commanding 11-7 lead. Soon Wong's game started to crumble, as she kept hitting the shuttle out.

As Wong netted the final point, Saina burst into tears and ran into her mentor Pullela Gopichand's arms.