36th National Games : Aakarshi, Sai Praneeth take home badminton crowns
Balbir Singh, USA
Gandhinagar, October 7, 2022: Second-seeded Aakarshi Kashyap (Chhattisgarh) shocked top-seeded Malvika Bansod (Maharashtra) to win the badminton women’s singles gold in the 36th National Games at the PDDU Indoor Stadium in Surat on Thursday.
Aakarshi, who has a 1-1 head-to-head record this year against Malvika, won 21-8, 22-20 in three-quarters of an hour, beating back a late attempt by the left-hander to take the match into the third game.
B Sai Praneeth (Telangana) justified his top billing by taking the men’s singles gold after an intense battle with Mithun Manjunath (Karnataka). He eventually won 21-11, 12-21, 21-16 in 63 minutes.
In Rajkot, a diving gold through Surajit Rajbansi on the 1M Springboard helped Services take their tally of gold to 41 so far. With 26 silver and 25 bronze for a total of 92 medals, the defending champions have stood head and shoulders above all States and UTs.
Though Haryana have 25 gold and are in the second place on the table, Maharashtra are right behind them with 24 gold at the time of writing. Maharashtra are in the race for 100 medals too.
The fancied N Sikki Reddy and Pullela Gayatri Gopichand expectedly won the Women’s doubles title for Telangana, making it a happy outing for the State with three gold to show from the Badminton competition.
Telangana had more reason to celebrate when their Women’s Basketball team prevented a Tamil Nadu double in Bhavnagar. Telangana beat Tamil Nadu 67-62 in a thriller, after leading 35-31 at half-time. Coming on the heels of their 3x3 side’s gold, this win meant that Telangana women would complete the golden double in the National Games. The formidable Tamil Nadu Men’s squad beat Punjab 97-89 after holding a 46-42 lead at the break to take the crown.
At the Sardar Patel Swimming Complex in Rajkot, the experienced Surajit Rajbansi and H London Singh earned the top two medals for Services. With good execution of his routines, Surajit Rajbansi tallied 275.35 points, relegating team-mate London Singh who logged 254.75 points. This was the third successive 1-2 for Sevices in Men’s Diving.
“I’m feeling good today. At the recent National Championships in Guwahati, I was not in the best of form and only won silver. I wanted to better my performance and succeeded,” said the 23-year-old who took the help of a mind trained to settle his nerves. It helped as this time he was able to overcome his fears and give off his best.
Yet, it was Aakarshi Kashyap’s victory over Malvika Bansod in the Women’s Singles final that was the highlight of the morning session. The Chhattisgarh player was quick and meant business with her well-placed strokes that wrong-footed an error-prone Malvika. The Maharashtra star regrouped in the second game but Aakarshi was up to speed.
“It was tough. There were two long rallies and she had a lucky point through a net cord to take the second game into extra points. But I held my nerves to win the next two points,” Aakarshi Kashyap said.
The 30-year-old Sai Praneeth faced a tough contest against Mithun. “Any gold medal is good for any player. I’m happy I could get my first-ever National Games gold,” the Telangana star said, adding that he was happy with the way he played, staying calm when Mithun gained the upper hand in the second game and riding on his greater endurance to claim gold.
Ashwini Ponnappa and K Sai Prateek made a perfect start to their journey as a mixed doubles pair, eking out a 21-16, 21-13 victory over Rohan Kapoor and Kanika Kanwal (Delhi). Ashwini Ponnappa was all praise for her 22-year-old partner. “He played a strong game. He hit hard and covered the court well. I’m very happy to win my first ever National Games gold,” she said.
Results (finals) Aquatics Diving 1M Springboard: Surajit Rajbansi (Services) 275.35 points; 2. H London Singh (Services) 254.75; 3. Anuj Shah (Maharashtra) 227.60 points.
Archery (Recurve) Men Individual Bronze medal play-off: Tarundeep Rai (Services) beat Gaurav Trambak Lambe (Maharashtra) 7-3. Team Bronze medal play-off: Maharashtra beat Jharkhand 5-4.
Women: Individual Bronze medal play-off: Simranjeet Kaur (Punjab) beat Avani (Haryana) 6-2. Team Bronze medal play-off: Gujarat beat Assam 5-4. Mixed Team Bronze medal play-off: Jharkhand beat Rajasthan 5-3.
Badminton Men Singles: B Sai Praneeth (Telangana) beat Mithun Manjunath (Karnataka) 21-11, 12-21, 21-16; Bronze medals: M Raghu (Karnataka) and Aryamann Tandon (Gujarat). Doubles: PS Ravikrishna and Udaykimar Sankarprasad (Kerala) beat Hariharan Amsakarunan and R Ruban Kumar (Tamil Nadu) 21-19, 21-9; Bronze medals: HV Nithin and Vaibhaav (Karnataka) and Shyam Prasad and S Sunjith (Kerala).
Women: Singles: Aakarshi Kashyap (Chhattisgarh) beat Malvika Bansod 21-8, 22-20; Bronze medals: Aditi Bhatt (Uttarakhand) and Tanya Hemnath (Uttarakhand).
Doubles: N Sikki Reddy and Pullela Gayatri Gopichand (Telangana) beat Shikha Gautam and K Ashwini Bhat (Karnataka) 21-14; 21-11. Bronze medals: Kavya Gupta and Khushi Gupta (Delhi) and Mehreen Riza and Arathi Sara Sunil (Kerala).
Mixed Doubles: K Sai Pratheek and Ashwini Ponnappa (Karnataka) beat Rohan Kapoor and Kanika Kanwal (Delhi) 21-15, 21-13. Bronze medals: Hariharan Amsakarunan and VR Nardhana (Tamil Nadu) and S Sunjith and TR Gowrikrishna (Kerala).
Basketball (5x5) Men: Tamil Nadu beat Punjab 97-89 (Half-time 46-42); Bronze medal play-off: Services beat Karnataka 94-67 (40-31).
Women: Telangana beat Tamil Nadu 67-62 (35-31); Bronze medal play-off: Kerala beat Madhya Pradesh 75-62 (33-32).
Football Men: Group A: Kerala beat Manipur 3-2 (Half-time 0-1).
Women: Group B: Assam beat Maharashtra 2-0 (1-0)
Hockey Men Group A: Haryana beat Gujarat 7-0 (Half-time: 3-0).
Water Polo Men: Kerala beat Maharashtra 7-6; Punjab beat Manipur 8-7.
Women: Karnataka beat Manipur 13-2; Bengal beat Kerala beat 10-8.