Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gutta Jwala-Ashwini make history at Wembley

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa etched their names in history books on Friday when they became the first Indian pair to ensure a medal at the World Badminton Championships.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallists defeated 12th seeds Vita Marrisa and Nadya Melati of Indonesia 17-21, 21-10, 21-17 to storm into the women's doubles semifinal in London on Friday, thereby ensuring at least a bronze.

Jwala and Ashwini's performance also ended India's 28-year medal drought in the flagship event.

India's only other medal in the championship came in 1983 when Prakash Padukone bagged the men's singles bronze in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The unseeded pair removed the gloom in the India camp after the loss of Saina Nehwal earlier in the day.

The world number 21 pair began on a slow note and played catch up through the first set. But the late charge in the opener gave them the confidence to go on the attack.

"Jwala was fantastic with her service and net play, while the opposition had no answer to Ashwini's smashes," chief national coach, Pullela Gopi Chand, told.

Jwala and Ashwini had created a buzz with a straight sets hammering of second seeds Wen Hsing Cheng and Yu Chin Chien of the Chinese Taipei in the second round.

"That victory gave us the confidence that we could match the best in the world," said Jwala.

On Thursday, they rallied from a set down to beat 11th seeds Lok Yan Poon and Ying Suet Tse of Hong Kong to come within whispering distance of a medal.

They will now face fifth seeds Qing Tian and Yunlei Zhao of China for a berth in the final.
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