LEE, SAINA WIN GOLD

Saina Nehwal clinched the gold medal in the women’s singles final at the Commonwealth Games with a come from behind win over Malaysia’s Wong Mew Choo.

The Indian, ranked number one, was within a point of defeat, 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 set, Saina led 3-2, and it proved to be the only time in the set 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 set, 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 set 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 set. 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 set 21-13.

In contrast, the men’s singles final was a mismatch as Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei hardly broke into a sweat in his 21-10,21-8 win over Rajiv Ouseph of England.

It was a clinical display, yet entertaining for the crowd as Chong Wei displayed high standards, and toyed around with Rajiv at regular intervals.

There was hardly a moment in the match that Chong Wei was troubled, not even when Rajiv took a 5-1 lead in the opening set.

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 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 was partnering Chan Chong Ming.

Koo/Tan were behind 13-16 in the first set 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 set. And they went on to seal it 21-19.

In the second set it was neck to neck with scores tied at 12-12. But the Malaysia pair reeled off five points in one 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

Mens Singles

Lee Chong Wei (MAS) bt Rajiv Ouseph (ENG) 2110,21-8

Womens Singles

Saina Nehwal (IND) v Wong Mew Choo (MAS) 19-21,23-21,21-13

Mens Doubles

Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong (MAS) bt Anthony Clark/Nathan Robertson  (ENG) 21-19,21-14

Womens 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