Jwala-Ashwini pair fetches bronze medal at Worlds
London: Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa`s dream run at the World Badminton Championships came to an end in the semifinals but the pair managed to script history by claiming a bronze medal for India in the prestigious event after a gap of 28 years.
The Commonwelath Games gold medallists gave a tough fight to fifth-seeded Chinese duo of Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei in the semi-final before losing the rubber 14-21, 16-21 in 38 minutes last night at the Wembley arena.
However, Jwala and Ashwini achieved what no other Indian shuttler could do in the last 28 years, ending the country`s medal drought in the flagship event.
The only other medal for India in the championship came way back in 1983 when Prakash Padukone bagged the men`s singles bronze in Copenhagen, Denmark.
En route to the last four round, giant-killers Jwala and Ashwini had stunned second seeds Wen Hsing Cheng and Yu Chin Chien of the Chinese Taipei in the second round before disposing off 12th seeded Indonesian pair of Vita Marrisa and Nadya Melati in the quarterfinals.
However, in Saturday`s semi-final, Jwala and Ashwini were slow in getting off the blocks as their Chinese opponents raced to a 6-2 lead before the Indian pair forced a comeback to level the scores at 8-8.
But the surge was short-lived as Ashwini, playing her first-ever World Championships semifinal, seemed to be awestruck by the occasion and in the process committed a number of unforced errors to hand the Chinese pair a crucial 13-8 lead.
From there on, Qing and Yunlei mantained their lead and, helped by some more unforced errors from the world number 21 pair, pocketed the first game 14-21.
The second game was no different as the Chinese dominated the proceedings with their quick movements and co-ordination to surge to 9-3 and then 11-6 lead at the break.
But the Indians, with Jwala at the forefront, made a strong comeback after the break to reduce the margin at 16-17.
Qing and Yunlei ensured the end of Indian pair`s giant-killing spree by winning four straight points to settle the tie and book a place in the final.
Disappointed to lose out on a place in the final, but the less-experienced among the Indian girls, Ashwini said this experience will be benificial for them in next year`s London Olympics.
"We did well under pressure but we are a little disappointed. I think we played very well but needed to be more cautious," she said.
"We have a feel for the stadium now and for next year and the Olympics."