The star men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty clinched India’s first badminton gold medal at the Asian Games with a back-to-back victory over South Korea’s Choi Solgyu and Kim Wonho here on Sunday.
Satwik and Chirag, world number 3, who had become the first Indians to win the Asian championship in 58 years in March this year, extended their sensational streak with a 21-18, 21-16 victory over Choi and Kim , ranked 15th, to achieve their sung glory.
It was also India’s first medal in men’s doubles in 41 years since Leroy D’sa and Pradeep Gandhe won a bronze in the 1982 edition.
The medal ensured India’s best performance at the continental champions as they finished with three medals – a gold in men’s doubles, a silver in men’s team and a bronze in men’s singles.
India won a silver and a bronze in the 2018 edition in Jakarta, while in the 1982 edition it achieved five bronzes.
Satwik and Chirag will become world number one. 1 team when BWF releases the leaderboard on Tuesday.
The Indians entered the summit match with a 2-0 head-to-head against their opponent. It looked like a tricky affair as Satwik and Chirag trailed for most of the opening game, which saw both teams produce an immaculate attacking display.
However, the Indian duo continued to be hot on the heels of the Koreans and overtook them after overturning a four-point deficit in the opening match in the dying moments.
From then on, it was a stunning spectacle as Satwik and Chirag slowed down the rallies and held the lead from the start to claim wins.
It was a feud from the start as the two couples engaged in a battle for supremacy. The Koreans were up 6-3 and the Indians missed some shots.
Chirag took some time to get his angles and attack working for him as they cut the lead to 7-9. A big hit from Satwik and a lucky goal helped the Indians reduce the deficit further before Choi and Kim took a narrow two-point lead into the break.
After the restart there were a series of quick exchanges with Satwik and Chirah bringing the score back to 13-13.
Kim looked in incredible form as she charged towards the net and also made a good return to establish a two-point lead again.
At 17-18, the two pairs engaged in a long and quick comeback with the Indians regaining strength and then Chirag brought them to 19-18 with another smash.
The Indian combination delivered two smart serves and Satwik sealed the win in the end.
The Indian pair modified their strategy slightly, directing the shots more towards Choi and varying the pace of the rallies and also looking for locations and angles to lead 8-4. Satwik and Chirag took an 11-7 lead after the Koreans pulled away.
The pace picked up again after the interval as the Koreans made it 11-12, but the Indians again pulled away to 16-12. A net error by Choi put India four points away from gold.
Another long shot from the Koreans and a good serve gave the Indians a 19-14 lead. The Indians soon gained five match points and sealed the match when the Koreans committed an unforced error.
With this title, Satwik and Chirag’s legend has only grown as they now have an Asian Games gold along with 2022 Commonwealth Games gold, 2022 Thomas Cup title and bronze at the 2022 World Championship.
The duo also won gold at the Asian Championships, Indonesian Super 1000, Korean Super 500 and Swiss Open Super 300 this year.