New Delhi: Indian paddlers ended their campaign in the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships at Laos on a golden note when Payas Jain and Yashaswini Ghorpade defeated the Chinese duo of Han Xinyuan and Qin Yuxuan 3-2 (11-9, 11-1, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8) in a thrilling final today afternoon.
Incidentally, this was the first gold medal that the Indian juniors have won in an Asian Championships, and it came close on the heels of our first mixed gold at the CWG through A. Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula in Birmingham last month.
Besides, India also grabbed three bronze medals, one each in the U-19 Boys Doubles, in the U-19 girls singles, and in the U-19 Boys team event. Overall, the Indians did well to return home with four medals.
The top-seeded Indian duo started well to surge into a 2-0 lead before the Chinese pair came back to take the next two games. However, in the decider, Payas and Yashaswini combined cleverly and attacked in a measured way to outwit their opponents.
Earlier, the top-seeded Karnataka girl did well up to the quarterfinals in the Under-19 Girls singles but lost to Chen Yi of China in the semis, losing the match in straight games of 13-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-3. After the first two games, where Yashaswini showed her fighting qualities, she lost steam in the next two and didn’t play as well.
Payas, who combined with Delhi-mate Yashansh Malik in the U-19 Boys Doubles till the previous round, failed to repeat their performance in the semifinals against the Japanese duo of Yuta Iimura and Yuhi Sakai. The Japanese, who became the eventual gold-winner, beat the Indians 11-8, 11-7, 12-14, 11-6, and settled for the bronze.
The second-seeded Under-19 Boys team defeated hosts Thailand 3-2 in the quarterfinals last Friday. In their semifinals against Japan, the Indians found the going tough, despite Payas putting India 1-0 up and Ankur Bhattacharjeeee, making it 2-1. Yashansh Malik lost both his singles and Payas his reverse singles, giving the match away to the Japanese, Iimura, Sakai and Kotaro Takahashi.