Asian Games 2018: Squash stars forced to settle for three bronze medals
Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal, all lost their singles semi-finals matches and settled for bronze medals
If Indian squash is as transparent at the glass-backed courts of the GBK Sports Complex here, the colour of the three medals bagged on Saturday could have been different.
Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal, all lost their singles semi-finals matches and settled for bronze medals. Pallikal first went down to hot favourite Nicol David of Malaysia 3-0 (7-11, 9-11, 6-11), matching her bronze winning show from the last edition at Incheon in 2014. Chinappa was then stunned by Malaysian teenager Sivasangari Subramaniam, 19, in four games (10-12, 6-11, 11-9, 7-11).
Finally, top seed Ghosal was shocked by Hong Kong China's Chung Ming Au (2-3) 12-10, 13-11, 6-11, 6-11, 6-11 to finish a step below his silver medal-winning performance in Incheon.
Joshna Chinappa (left) and Dipika Pallikal
In the run-up to these Games, there were reports that the Indian squash players had contested the appointment of Cyrus Poncha and Bhuvneshwari Kumar as coaches of the team and insisted that they were just administrative managers. Egyptian coach Achraf Karargui had quit after a run-in with the Squash Racquets Federation of India (SRFI), leaving the players to look after themselves here on court. And that's exactly what they did.
Pallikal, Harinder Pal Sandhu, Chinappa and Ghosal were all helping each other in between matches even as Poncha looked on silently for most of the time. Kumari, a 16-time national champion, was ever more silent sitting besides Poncha.
Speaking about the absence of a coach, Pallikal said: "It's a silent decision taken by all the players that only a player will talk to the players. It works that way for us. We all like to coach each other and help each other since Harry (Harinderpal), Saurav and Joshna, we all train together and also are on the Tour together." Both Dipika and Joshna complained about the refereeing. "Some of the refereeing calls were poor but that's something we have got used to here at the Asian level. These referees are not used on the professional Tour," said Chinappa.
A silent uprising seems to be taking shape in this squash contingent as they now eye nothing less than a gold medal in the team events coming up. "We won a men's team gold last time in Incheon, so team events are truly our strength and we are looking to win gold medals in both the team events," said Chinappa. "We will sit back, regroup and fight hard, for we have a gold medal to win in the women's team event," Pallikal signed off.
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