Maria’s dream for squash gold ends at SAF Games


GUWAHATI: India’s top player Joshna Chinappa clinched the gold in women’s individual squash competition of the 12th South Asian Games after beating Pakistan’s Maria Toorpaki Wazir in a tense and ill-tempered summit clash on Monday.

Top seed Chinappa, ranked 14th in the world, recovered from one set down to beat second seeded Maria 10-12, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 at the brand new squash facility at the R.G. Baruah Sports Complex here.

Maria, ranked 50th in the world, won the first set 12-10 after a neck-and-neck contest but she got injured midway in the second set at 7-7 as blood came out of her left eyebrow region after contact with Chinappa and play was stopped for a while to get her treated.

The Pakistani was immediately given first aid and she resumed play after a few minutes. It looked like the break gave Chinappa time to ponder on her game and the glamorous Indian started dominating the match from there on.

Maria looked tentative just after coming from her injury break and Chinappa did not take much time to take the second set 11-7 and level scores at 1-1.

The third set saw Chinappa taking a 5-2 lead but Wazir came back with some superb shots to make it 6-6 and then 8-6. By then there was tension among the crowd at the stands, but a calm Chinappa just went about her job and brought the score to 9-9 and then 10-9 before taking the set.

In the fourth and final set, Maria gave some fight initially but later frittered away as Chinappa won it 11-7 to give India the first gold in squash in this edition.

Joshana Chiappa (L) of India and Pakistan’s Maria Toorpaki Waxir play in the women’s squash final at the 12th South Asian Games 2016 in Guwahati on February 8, 2016. — AFP

Meanwhile, India clinched a majority of other gold medals to ensure a third successive day of supremacy for the host country.

While compound archers scooped all five gold medals on offer, wrestlers also annihilated competition to grab five yellow metals out of six.

India continued to top the medals’ tally with a count of 72, which includes 48 gold, 18 silver and six bronze medals.

Sri Lanka held on to the second spot with 59 medals (11 gold, 25 silver and 23 bronze). Pakistan are a distant third in the tally with 29 medals (4 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze) in their kitty.

The golden run began early for India in Shillong with compound archers grabbing all the five gold medals on offer along with two silver medals to rule the roost.

The Indian archers topped the medals chart ahead of Bangladesh, who finished with two silver and two bronze medals and Bhutan (0-1-1).

The Indian grapplers simply annihilated their opponents, scooping 14 gold medals out of a total 16 on offer as the wrestling competition that ended on Monday.

Despite being represented by a second string team, the home wrestlers proved too strong for their South Asian neighbours as they grabbed five more gold out of six on offer.

Indian wrestlers thus ended their campaign with a whopping 14 gold and two silver. India won gold in all the eight women’s categories, while their men counterparts won six gold and two silver.

Pakistan won two gold.

Pakistan’s Zaman Anwar won the gold in the 125kg final bout against Mandeep of India.