Asian Games champion Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy’s bid for the fourth BWF title of the season failed as they lost to China’s world No. 1 pair of Liang Wei Keng and Wang Chang in three games in the double's final at the China Masters badminton tournament in Shenzhen on Sunday.
India and Pakistan came up with a one-two in the men’s squash team event after Rohan Bopanna and Rutuja Bhosale opened India’s account on Saturday by winning the gold in the mixed doubles tennis event and the 10m Air Pistol mixed team added the silver lining to the campaign, even as the likes of boxers Lovlina Borgohain and Preeti Pawar confirmed podium finishes after reaching their respective semifinals on Day 7 of the 19th Asian Games at Hangzhou.
Later in the day, Indian long-distance runners Kartik Kumar and Gulveer Singh bagged the silver and bronze medals respectively in the men’s 10000m race, while in table tennis, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee assured India’s maiden women’s doubles medal in Asiad history.
With that India’s tally surged to 10 gold, 14 silver and 14 bronze for a cumulative 38 medals, and placed fourth in the table behind China (216), Japan (104) and Korea (109).
However, the biggest heartbreak of the day came from the weightlifting arena, when Olympic silver medallist Mirabai Chanu failed to return with a 49kg medal from the Asian Games, but more worryingly she seemed to have badly injured herself after her third Clean & Jerk attempt.
The Indian men’s squash team clawed its way back in a tense final against Pakistan to win the gold medal with a 2-1 victory. This is India’s 10th gold at Hangzhou 2023.
The veteran Saurav Ghosal and the young Abhay Singh were the stars of the show as India came from behind for the title.
In the first match, Mahesh Mangaonkar lost in straight games against Nasir Iqbal. After a competitive first game, which Mangaonkar 11-8, Nasir won the next two 11-3, 11-2 to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the tie.
Saurav got India back into contention with a 11-5, 11-1, 11-3 win against Muhammad Asim Khan in the second match before Abhay Singh defeated Noor Zaman 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 12-10 to ensure India’s triumph.
The eight-seeded combo of Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee scripted history by securing India’s first ever women’s doubles medal in Asian Games history.
The Indian pair recorded a stunning 11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9 against reigning world champions Chen Meng and Wang Yidi in the quarterfinal, thus assuring them of a medal.
This is India’s third Asian Games medal for India, after the men’s team and mixed doubles – Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra, won a bronze in the 2018 edition in Jakarta. In the semifinal, the Indian pair of Suthirtha and Ayhika will be up against North Korea’s Suyong Cha and Sugyong Pak.
Earlier in the day, star paddler Manika Batra suffered a heartbreaking 2-4 loss to Chinese Yidi Wang in the women’s singles quarter-final, thus ending India’s table tennis campaign in singles.
Yidi Wang, a World Championship bronze medallist, won the first, third, fourth and sixth games while the 28-year-old Manika Batra fought back in the second and fifth games.
On the penultimate day of action in the shooting range, the mixed team pair of Sarabjot Singh and Divya TS crashed to a narrow defeat against China in a thrilling 10m air pistol mixed team final. The final score read 16-14 in favour of the Chinese shooters Zhang Bowen and Jiang Ranxin.
Sarabjot had shot 291, while Divya scored 286 to aggregate 577 and finish ahead of China (576) in the qualification round. But in the shoot-off for gold, the Chinese pair turned the tables on the Indians, emerging winners after trailing the Indian duo for much of the finals.
With this, Divya TS took home her second silver from this edition of the Asian Games while Sarabjot Singh has won a gold and a silver.
It turned out to be a fruitful day on the boxing ring, with Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain (75kg), Preeti Pawar (54kg) and Narender (+92kg) registering contrasting victories to confirm medals for India.
Lovlina secured her Asian Games medal after recording a 5-0 Unanimous Decision verdict win over Korea’s Suyeon Seong in the women’s 75kg quarterfinal. The lanky Assamese pugilist utilised her long range effectively to outclass her Korean opponent, and set her date with Thailand’s Baison Maneekon in the semifinals. Interestingly, both Lovlina and Baison shared a similar background, beginning their journey in Muay Thai.
Lovlina will now need to beat Baison in her semifinal clash to book herself a quota for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Earlier, teenaged Preeti Pawar dished out a brave performance to beat three-time world championships medallist Zhaina Shekerbekova of Kazakhstan 4:1 by a split decision verdict in the women’s 54kg quarterfinal.
Preeti’s victory against the reigning Asian champion assured India another medal at Hangzhou while it also confirmed an Olympic quota for Paris 2024.
Narender Berwal (+92kg) confirmed the 4th boxing medal for India in the Asian Games after Nikhat, Preeti and Lovlina. He came back after losing the first round to clinch a 5-0 win in the quarterfinals against Iran’s Iman Ramezanpourdelavar. The Indian received five 10s in the second and third round after losing the first round to the Iranian.
In men’s 57kg, Sachin got a walkover in the round of 16 bout against Kuwait’s Turki Abuquthailah.
However, it was the end of the campaign for world championships bronze medallist Nishant Dev in the men’s 71kg weight division after going down 5-0 to 2021 World champion Sewon Okazawa of Japan in the quarterfinal.
Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Mirabai Chanu finished a painful fourth in the women’s 49kg weightlifting final after suffering a fall. The 29-year-old Indian registered best lifts of 83kg in snatch and 108kg in clean and jerk to achieve a combined score of 191.
She faced a harsh fall in her final attempt of C&J, and landed flat on her back before being assisted back by the support staff, thus ending her dreams of an Asiad medal.
An Asian Games medal is the only silverware missing from the Manipuri’s decorated cabinet. Chanu had finished ninth in the 2014 edition and was forced to miss the 2018 Games due to a back injury.
Meanwhile, Songgum Ri from Korea finished atop the Hangzhou podium, winning back-to-back gold medals at the Asian Games. The 25-year-old scored an Asian record 214 points combined, while she broke the clean and jerk world record with a 122kg lift. China’s Jiang Huihua bagged silver with a 213kg combined lift and Thailand’s Thanyathon Sukcharoen settled for bronze.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games silver medalist Bindyarani Devi also endured a poor outing as she finished fifth in the 55kg and with this India’s medal drought in weightlifting at the Asian Games extended further. India last won an Asiad medal in 1998 in Bangkok when Karnam Malleswari claimed a silver in women’s 63kg.
Bindyarani managed a total lift of 196kg (83kg+113kg) in the women’s 55kg division later in the day. North Korea’s Hongyong Kang took home the gold medal with world records each in snatch, clean and jerk and total lifts.
Elsewhere, the men’s badminton team created history by defeating Korea 3-2 in an exhilarating semifinal to enter first-ever final for Team India at team events of the Asian Games. The Indians will face China in the final on Sunday.
In basketball, the Indian women’s 3×3 team registered a 16-6 win against Malaysia to advance to the quarter-finals, while Indian divers London Singh Hemam and Siddharth Bajrang Pardeshi finished sixth, scoring 279.87 points, in the men’s synchronised 3m springboard final at the Asian Games 2023.