By Naushad Amit in Nepal
Sri Lanka shuttlers bagged two gold medals and two silver medals in the Badminton Competition of the 13th South Asian Games at the Covered Hall in Pokhara, in a history creating appearance where two teams fought for the gold with an assured silver.
In an all-Sri Lanka final at an international level competition, youngsters Thilini Hendehewa and Kavidi Sirimannage outplayed seniors Achini Ratnasiri and Upuli Samanthika in straight sets. Expectations were high on the pairing of Ratnasiri, the women’s skipper, and Samanthika, who had been operating as a successful doubles combination, but it was never meant to be.
Hendehewa and Sirimannage, who had been quite successful as a doubles unit virtually outplayed their seniors, by clinching the two sets – 21-10 and 21-7, to bag the gold medal, thus forcing Ratnasiri and Samanthika to settle in with the silver medal.
Sachin Dias and Buwaneka Goonathilake gave Sri Lanka their second gold medal in the Men’s Doubles after defeating Indian pair Krishna Prasad and Dhruv Kapila in a close encounter. The Lankans sealed the deal by 2-1 and had the game almost slipping out of their hands, before a late charge from Dias and Goonathilake ensured their second gold medal.
The battle was on from the onset before the Lankan duo snatched the first set 21-19. But Prasad and Kapila turned the tables on the Lankans to equalize 1-1, defeating their opponents in the second set by the same scores. Both teams were under pressure by the crucial third set, as the game opened up. The Indians attempted to almost have the Lankans out of contention, but Dias and Goonathilake were more optimistic in their serves and dashes, to put the Indians on the back foot. Eventually they won the third set 21-18 and sealed the gold medal.
Dias and Hendehewa, who already has a gold medal around their necks, earlier turned up in the Mix Doubles final against India’s Dhruv Kapila and Meghana Jakkampudi, who went on to clinch the gold medal. The Lankan pair put all their power to outdo the Indian duo, who won the match in straight sets. Kapila and Jakkampudi contained the Lankan pair with their experience by making late retaliations to win the sets by 21-16 and 21-14.
In all-India finals Siril Verma and Ashmita Chalika bagged the gold medals of the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles. Verma had a tight battle against Aryaman Tandon in the Men’s final, before clinching the gold, while Chaliha too experienced a close fight against Gayathri Gopichand in the Women’s Singles final.
Sri Lanka aimed of winning all three gold medals in the finals they qualified at, but had to bow out with two gold, two silver and three bronze medals from Individual Events. Men’s skipper Dinuka Karunaratne, who lost his battle to India’s Siril Warma in straight sets, secured a bronze medal in the Men’s Singles while Ratnasiri and Dilmi Dias, who exited from the Women’s Singles semi-finals, also claimed bronze medals.
The Sri Lanka Men and Women badminton sides, clinched the silver medals in the Team Events. The badminton squad will return to Sri Lanka on Sunday.
- Men’s Doubles final: Sachin Dias and Buwaneka Goonathilake (SL) beat Krishna Prasad and Dhruv Kapila (Ind) 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 21-18)
- Women’s Doubles final: Thilini Hendehewa and Kavidi Sirimannage (SL) beat Achini Ratnasiri and Upuli Samanthika (SL) 2-0 (21-10, 21-7)
- Mix Doubles final: Dhruv Kapila and Meghana Jakkampudi (Ind) beat Sachin Dias and Thilini Hendehewa 2-0 (21-16, 21-14)
- Men’s Singles final: Siril Verma (Ind) beat Aryaman Tandon (Ind) 2-1 (17-21, 23-21, 21-13)
- Women’s Singles final: Ashmita Chaliha (Ind) beat Gayathri Gopichand (Ind) 2-0 (21-18, 25-23)