Badminton Asia Junior Championship 2016: Indians claim medals in three events
The Badminton Asia Junior Championships in Kudus, Indonesia, saw the Indians excelling in all fronts. While Kiran George won the silver medal in the under-17 boy’s singles event, doubles pair Gayatri Gopichand and Samiya Imad Farooqui won the bronze medal in the under-15 girl’s doubles event. In the under-17 girl’s singles event, Aakarshi Kashyap bagged the bronze medal, as well.
Kiran George lost to Kunlayut Vitidsam of Thailand despite his best efforts in the final of the under-17 boy’s singles. Vitidsam, seeded first in the meet, outplayed the Indian after losing the first game of the best-of-three match. Kiran had been in roaring form from the start of the tournament and defeated Indonesia's Alberto Alvin 21-16 19-21 24-22 in a hard fought semi-final encounter.
The 16-year-old, who trains at Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bangalore, showed tremendous grit to win the first game against the higher ranked opponent. However, Kiran, son of former national champion George Thomas, eventually lost 21-17 15-21 12-21 to claim the silver medal.
In the girls' under-17 singles event, the seventh seed, Aakarshi Kashyap lost in the semifinals to third-seeded Chasinee Korepap. The Thailand youngster defeated Kashyap 21-19 21-15 to enter the finals after a straight set victory while Aakarshi had to be content with the bronze medal after a good showing in the meet.
Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of chief coach Pullela Gopichand, claimed her second successive bronze medal in the Asian Junior Championships. She won the bronze with Vaishnavi Reddy in the previous year.
Gayatri Gopichand has been making quite a name for herself in the past few years. The 13-year-old prodigy became the youngest Indian shuttler to represent her country last year. Before going into the meet last year, she claimed three titles in a national meet winning the U-13 and U-15 singles titles and the U-15 doubles event with partner Vaishnavi Jakka Reddy.
This time, she paired up with Samiya Imad Farooqui to clinch the bronze yet again. The unseeded Indian pair went down against second seeds Se Young An and A. Yeon Yoo of South Korea in the semi-finals of the under-15 girl’s doubles event. The South Korean duo dominated over the Indians as they won 2-0 with the final scores reading 16-21 13-21.
Overall, the Indians had a good show in the championships and the future of the sport in India seems to be in secure hands as the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu seem to have indeed found worthy successors.