INDIAN star Saina Nehwal foiled Wong Mew Choo’s hopes of securing the best-ever gold medal finish for Malaysia in Commonwealth Games badminton at the Siri Fort Sports Complex yesterday.
Nehwal was within a point of defeat but showed steely nerves to beat Mew Choo 19-21, 23-21, 21-13 in 70 minutes to claim India’s second title in badminton and the last gold medal of the Delhi Games.
Three titles were already in the bag from badminton to take Malaysia’s gold medal tally to 14, surpassing a 10-gold target, for an all-time high in the history of Commonwealth Games before Mew Choo came out to play against Nehwal.
A win over the darling of Indian badminton would have given Malaysia, who had won the mixed team event, a record haul of five gold medal against the four medals won at the 2006 Melbourne Games.
But it was not to be even though Mew Choo looked good to achieve it after winning a tight first game.
Nehwal played a good mix of long rallies to tire out Mew Choo and her persistence paid off when she won the next game.
With the capacity crowd cheering her on, Nehwal completed the formality to take the rubber game and immediately rushed to the stands to hug her coach and former All-England champion, Pullela Gopichand.
Mew Choo, who broke down after the medals ceremony, was distraught over her performance.
“What can I say, I tried my best today. I only needed one point to win in straight games but luck was not on my side,” said the 27-year-old.
The silver medal was her second in the women’s singles competition after the defeat by Tracey Hallam of England at the 2006 Games.
Earlier, Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponappa overwhelmed Singapore’s Sari Shinta Mulia-Yao Lei 21-16, 21-19 in the women’s doubles final earlier. Their win and the success of Nehwal helped put India in second place in the final medal standings behind Australia.