Malaysia 3 India 2
Saina Nehwal came back from the brink of defeat to clinch the gold medal in the women’s singles final at the Commonwealth Games.
The Indian, the top seed, was within a point of defeat to Malaysia’s Wong Mew Choo, but showed steely determination to take the gold in a match that lasted 70 minutes.
It was another epic encounter between the two players as their match in the mixed team event lasted 68 minutes.
In the first game, Saina led 3-2, and it proved to be the only time in the game that she was to be in the lead. For Mew Choo matched Saina stroke for stroke, leading 16-12 at one stage.
Though the Malaysian was one point away from winning the first game, leading 20-17, she allowed Saina back and was fortunate to win it 21-19, in 22 minutes.
The second was closely contested as well, with little separating the two players as they matched each other point for point.
This time it was Saina who wasted an opportunity to win the second when leading 20-19 as Mew Choo drew level. The Malaysian was a point away from winning the gold, leading 21-20 but failed to capitalize, with the Indian closing the game 23-21 in 28 minutes.
Saina was given a second life and she took full advantage of it to pull away to a 6-3 lead in the third game. She gradually increased her lead to 12-7, with Mew Choo struggling to keep up with the pace.
And with the capacity crowd cheering her on, Saina completed the formality, winning the third game 21-13.
In contrast, the men’s singles final was a mismatch as Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei hardly broke sweat in his 21-10, 21-8 win over Rajiv Ouseph of England.
Chong Wei created history of sorts, as he is the only player to have successfully defended a title at the Commonwealth Games.
“There was no competition for me and I used Commonwealth Games to prepare for the Asian Games which is just 28 days away,” said Chong Wei.
“Though I am the world’s number one player, my participation in Delhi was important as the country was counting on me to deliver a gold medal. The level of competition may be easy for me but I doubt that another singles player from Malaysia could have won gold as Kashyap, Rajiv and Chetan played well.
“I am still undergoing treatment for my back injury but am fortunate it did not act up here at all.”
The men’s doubles title too went to Malaysia as Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong defeated England’s Anthony Clark/Nathan Robertson 21-19, 21-14 in 32 minutes.
It was the second gold medal in men’s doubles for Koo in the history of the Games as he won four years ago as well, but partnering Chan Chong Ming.
Koo/Tan were behind 13-16 in the first game but were patient enough to bide for time, returning whatever the English pair had to offer. Two mistakes in returning the serve in quick succession by Clark/Robertson allowed the Malaysians back into the game. And they went on to seal it 21-19.
In the second game it was neck to neck with scores tied at 12-12. But the Malaysia pair reeled off five points on serve to lead 16-12 and after that lost only two more points to seal the gold with a 21-14 win.
“We took time to settle down and that almost cost us the match. Koo was a bit tired after the mixed doubles match but paced himself nicely,” said Tan.
“It is always good to win but this is especially memorable for me and I dedicate this win to my family without whose support I will not be an international player.
Gold Medal Playoffs
Men’s Singles: Lee Chong Wei (MAS) bt Rajiv Ouseph (ENG) 21-10, 21-8; Women’s Singles: Saina Nehwal (IND) v Wong Mew Choo (MAS) 19-21, 23-21, 21-13; Men’s Doubles: Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong (MAS) v Anthony Clark/Nathan Robertson (ENG) 21-19, 21-14; Women’s Doubles: Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa (IND) bt Sari Shinta Mulia/Yao Lei (SIN) 21-16, 21-19; Mixed Doubles: Koo Kien Keat/Chin Ee Hui (MAS) bt Nathan Robertson/Jenny Wallwork (ENG) 22-20, 21-12