Asian Games: Somdev wins gold, hockey team lose in semis (Evening Lead)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GUANGZHOU - Somdev Devvarman clinched a historic singles gold medal in tennis while two bronze medals came from athletics, but the men’s hockey team squandered an advantageous position to go down to Malaysia in a thrilling semifinal in the Asian Games here Tuesday.

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia, who won gold in the Commonwealth Games, had to remain content with a silver with a throw of 61.94m.

Pramila Ganapathy finished third in heptathlon with 5,415 points in the seven-discipline competition. Compatriot Susmita Singha Roy finished fourth, bagging 5,051 points.

In hockey, India lost to Malaysia through Muhamad Amin Rahim’s golden goal. India were leading 3-2 with three minutes to go for the final hooter when Rahim scored the equaliser taking advantage of a defensive lapse that proved costly for Jose Brasa’s team.

Malaysia scored through Abdul Jalil Tengku (32nd minute), Azlan Misron (49th) and Rahim (67th, 75th).

The Indian goals came through Sandeep Singh (35th), Tushar Khandekar (37th) and Rajpal Singh (54th).

Malaysia will now take on Pakistan for the gold medal.

Also, 16-year-old archery sensation Deepika Kumari could not live up to the expectations as she lost the bronze medal match 2-6 to Kwon Un Sil of North Korea in the women’s individual recurve event.

Earlier, Somdev’s gold capped a successful tennis campaign and took India to the seventh spot in the medal’s tally.

Somdev dominated the 1 hour 22-minute title clash at the Aoti Tennis Stadium from start to finish as World No.40 Istomin committed a stream of errors and struggled with his serve, making as many as eight double faults.

Somdev, who partnered Sanam Singh for a gold in the doubles Monday, was fourth after Leander Paes (Hiroshima 1994), Mahesh Bhupathi (Bangkok, 1998) and Prahlad Srinath (Bangkok 1998) to win a singles medal in tennis at the Asian Games.

With Somdev’s victory, India finished their tennis competition with five medals — two gold, one silver and two bronze medals. In the previous Asiad edition at Doha, India won two golds (men’s doubles, mixed doubles) and two silver medals (women’s singles and team).

The performance stands out in the absence of Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, who pulled out of the Asian Games as they are busy playing in the World Tour Finals.

Somdev himself played part in three of those medals. The Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist combined with Sanam to clinch the men’s doubles gold after guiding the men’s team to a bronze medal. Sania Mirza, who won the singles bronze, combined with Vishnu Vardhan for a silver in the mixed doubles event.

The Tripura boy showed amazing stamina throughout the competition, having played 15 matches and losing just one in 11 days.

The Indian was off colour during his scratchy three-set win over fourth-seeded Tatsuma Ito of Japan Monday.

However, the second seed dispelled any doubts over his form this day. The Indian’s cause was boosted by mounting errors from Istomin and he gradually raised his game to make it a lopsided battle. His serve which was left wanting a day before was also on target and he even hit five aces in the match.

The Indian sprinted to a 5-0 lead and was serving for the first set, but was broken to gift Istomin his first game. He, however, immediately broke back to go up a set.

The Uzbek showed signs of resurrection in the beginning of the second set, but the Indian did not allow the momentum to shift and closed out the match, breaking Istomin thrice.

In athletics, Krishna bettered her gold winning throw at the Commonwealth Games but it could only win her a bronze in the women’s discus throw event.

Krishna threw 61.51 metres in Delhi, but had to settle for the third place with an improved throw of 61.94m. She also won a bronze at the Doha edition of the Asiad four years ago.

Chinese Yanfeng Li (66.18m) and Aimin Song (64.04m) won the gold and silver, respectively.

Another Indian in the fray, Harwant Kaur, who bagged silver in Delhi, was nowhere near her Commonwealth Games performance and finished fourth with a 57.55m throw.

Filed under: Hockey, Tennis

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