Maisnam Meiraba, Malvika Bansod claim badminton gold with contrasting victories
Manipur lad Maisnam Meiraba reasserted his claim as the best U17 badminton player in the country when he staged a comeback and put paid to Uttar Pradesh lad Aakash Yadav’s aspirations when winning the boys’ singles crown in the inaugural Khelo India School Games at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here today.
Playing before an audience including Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Maisnam Meiraba won the final gold of the Games with a 16-21, 21-14, 21-18 victory. Left-handed Malvika Bansod won the girls’ singles title with a facile 21-12, 12-10 win against Aakarshi Kashyap to give Maharashtra its final gold in the event.
Having lost the National Junior Championship U17 final in Guwahati to Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod was determined to come up with a better outcome here. Both had not dropped a game on their way to the final and the expectations were of a rousing contest but the Shivaji Science College, Nagpur, was a picture of confidence and intensity.
The dapper left-hander needed only a shade over half an hour to accomplish her mission, moving on the court with dexterity and mixing her shots to make the final her own show. Daughter of dental surgeons, Malvika Bansod remained a picture of composure through the match, focussing on completing the victory and clenching her left fist in a victorious gesture.
In the boys’ final, Maisnam Meiraba, a student of Imphal’s Hundred Flowers Higher Secondary School, was up against a gritty Aakash Yadav and had to bring out his best. After they split the first two games, the two lads drew the crowd to the edge of its seats by battling it out for each point, not asking for or conceding any quarters.
Tied at 18-18, Maisnam Meiraba pulled away with a smart combination of strokes that forced a tiring Aakash Yadav to commit errors. The Manipuri’s staying power came to the fore in the decisive moments of the match that lasted more than an hour and a quarter. It was a fitting end to the competitions in the Khelo India School Games.
Boys singles (Final): (4) Maisnam Meiraba (Manipur) beat (7) Aakash Yadav (Uttar Pradesh) 16-21, 21-14, 21-18; Bronze medal play-off: (6) Koya Sai Charan (Telangana) beat (8) Rohan Gurbani (Maharashtra) 21-13, 21-17
Girls singles (final): (1) Malvika Bansod (Maharashtra) beat (2) Aakarshi Kashyap (Chattisgarh) 21-12, 21-10; Bronze medal play-off: (4) Unnati Bisht (Uttarakhand) beat (7) Amolika Singh (Uttar Pradesh) 21-16, 21-4.
Boys doubles (final): (1) Navaneeth Bokka and Vishnuvardhan Goud (Telangana) beat (2) Aravind V Suresh and Edwin Joy (Kerala) 23-21, 21-16; Bronze medal play-off: (3) Kush Chugh and Varun Trikha (Haryana ) beat Ajinkya and Tejas Kallokar (Karnataka) 21-19, 21-14.
Girls doubles (final): (2) Dhriti Yatheesh and Trisha Hegde (Karnataka) beat Deepshikha Singh and Likhita Shrivastava (Uttar Pradesh) 21-19, 2-17; Bronze medal play-off: (3) Samriddhi Singh and Shruti Mishra (Uttar Pradesh) beat Keerthana P Shroff and Medha Shashidharan (Karnataka) 21-7, 15-21, 21-12.