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Kenya International 2020 roundup: Indian shuttlers return home with three titles

  • Chirag Sen was crowned the men's singles champion while Aakarshi Kashyap claimed the women's singles title.
FEATURED WRITER
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Modified 02 Mar 2020, 15:40 IST

Aakarshi Kashyap
Aakarshi Kashyap

What's the story?

Indian shuttlers completed their dominating run at Kenya International 2020 and returned home with three titles.

Chirag Sen was crowned the men's singles champion while Aakarshi Kashyap claimed the women's singles title. The men's doubles pair of Kathiravun Concheepuran Manivannan and Santhosh Gajendran also impressed and clinched the title at the recently concluded tournament in Thika, Kenya. 

The background

The Kenya International is an annual badminton tournament conducted by the Kenya Badminton Association. 

Abhinn Shyam Gupta and Trupti Murgunde won the men's and women's singles titles in 2005, becoming the first Indian champions in the competition.

Other Indian champions include Chetan Anand (Men's Singles, 2007); Dhanya Nair and Anita Ohlan (Women's Doubles, 2009); Oscar Bansal (Men's Singles, 2010); Manu Attri and Jishnu Sanyal (Men's Doubles, 2011); Subhankar Dey (Men's Singles, 2013); B. M. Rahul Bharadwaj (Men's Singles, 2019). 

The heart of the matter

With three titles in the 2020 edition of the competition, Indian shuttlers will return home on the back of their best-ever performance at the Kenya International.

India's Chirag Sen was the third seed in the men's singles competition. The 21-year-old began his campaign with a 21-11, 21-10 win over Kenyan shuttler John Wanyoike in the first round.

He followed it up with a convincing 21-14, 21-6 win over Luxembourg's Robert Mann in Round 2 before routing 7th seed Adam Mendrek 21-7, 21-9 in the quarterfinal. 

The Indian shuttler outclassed 2nd seed Maxime Moreels of Belgium in the semifinal 21-15, 21-9 which set up a match against Nigeria's Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori in the summit clash. The youngster kept his cool against the top seed and raced to a 21-18, 21-8 win to take home the gold. 

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Aakarshi Kashyap also made the nation proud by winning the women's singles title. The sixth-seeded Indian ace annihilated Riya Shah 21-1, 21-4 in the first round before thrashing Mable Namakoye 21-9, 21-6 in the second round.

The quarterfinal clash between Kashyap and Thet Htar Thuzar of Myanmar was evenly-contested. The Indian ace won the three-setter 21-13, 14-21, 21-13 against the top-seeded Thet and progressed to the semifinals.

18-year-old Kashyap was at her best and destroyed Poland's Wiktoria Dabczynska in the semifinal, prevailing 21-4, 21-8. The youngster was always the favourite against fellow Indian Anupama Upadhyaya in the final. Aakarshi defeated Anupama 21-15, 21-6 to bag the coveted gold medal.

15-year-old Anupama also had a stellar campaign and caused plenty of upsets, defeating the likes of second-seeded Fabiana Silva en route to the silver medal.

The Kenya International proved to be a memorable tournament for the unseeded Indian duo of Kathiravun Concheepuran Manivannan and Santhosh Gajendran as well. They faced Kenya's Edwin Akwanyi and Sammy Mdogo Sikoyo in the first round, claiming a nervy 21-19, 21-12 victory.

Their 21-12, 21-13 victory against 2nd seeded pair of Brian Kasirye and Daniel Mihigo in the second round was far more convincing. Continuing their impressive run, the Indian pair thrashed Himesh Patel and Abraham Wogute 21-13, 21-10 in the quarterfinals before defeating the fourth-seeded duo of Edwin Njeri and John Wanyoike 21-19, 21-16 in the semifinals. 

In the summit clash, Kathiravun-Santhosh faced a stern test against the top seeds, Godwin Olofua and Anuoluwapo Juwon Opeyori. However, the Indian pair persevered and won the match 21-12, 21-17, meaning they did not drop a set in the entire tournament.

What's next?

With sublime performances at the Kenya International 2020, it is safe to say that Indian badminton is in good hands. 

The Indian shuttlers will look to continue putting in strong performances in the tournaments to come.

Published 02 Mar 2020, 15:40 IST
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