Asian Games: Somdev wins singles, men’s hockey team disappoints (Roundup)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GUANGZHOU - Somdev Devvarman clinched a historic singles gold in tennis while two bronze medals came to India from athletics, but the men’s hockey team squandered the lead twice in the semifinals to go down to Malaysia in the Asian Games here Tuesday.

Somdev became the first Indian to win a singles gold medal in the Asian Games tennis, stunning top-seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-1, 6-2 at the Aoti Tennis Centre.

India are now eighth in the medals tally with seven gold, 12 silver and 20 bronze medals.

But it was heartbreak in men’s hockey where a shocking defensive lapse three minutes from the end of the regulation time cost India the final berth as Muhamad Amin Rahim first struck from a penalty corner to level the scores 3-3 and then slotted the golden goal, again through a penalty corner, in the fifth minute of extra time.

Malaysia scored the first goal, through Abdul Jalil Tengku (32nd minute), before Indian drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, who has been in terrific form in the tournament, scored his 11th goal to equalise in the 35th minute.

Tushar Khandekar (37th) put India ahead but Malaysian Azlan Misron pulled one back (49th). India again got the lead through captain Rajpal Singh’s strike.

Rahim (67th, 75th) then showed his brilliance to pull the game away from India’s clutches.

Malaysia’s first entry to the Asian Games final was marked by their tenacity. The win sparked jubilation in the Malaysian camp while the Indians cut a sorry figure, ruing their complacency in the final minutes.

In athletics, discus thrower Krishna Poonia had to remain content with a silver with a throw of 61.94m. Krishna bettered her gold winning throw at the Commonwealth Games (61.51 metres) but it could only win her a bronze.

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.

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

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.

Also, Sixteen-year-old Deepika Kumari of India missed a medal by finishing fourth after losing the semi-final contest against top seed Yun Ok Hee of South Korea and then the bronze play-off opposite North Korea’s Kwon Un Sil 2-6.

India’s second entry Rimil Buriuly went down in the second round to Chinese Taipei’s Tan Ya Ting, who was later eliminated by Deepika in the quarter-finals.

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

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.

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 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.

“I am very happy to get a gold here. It’s a dream come true. No one comes to an Asian Games thinking of winning two gold,” said Somdev.

India also assured themselves of at least two bronze medals in squash as their men and women made it to the semifinals.

The men blanked South Korea 3-0 and later lost to formidable Malaysia 2-3 to finish second in Pool B. They will now face arch-rivals and Pool A toppers Pakistan in the semifinals.

The women’s team lost to Hong Kong 0-3 and finished second behind them in Pool B. They face top-seed Malaysia in the last four.

Filed under: Hockey, Tennis

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