Telangana athletes set sights on Asian Games glory
Hyderabad: The 18th edition of the Asian Games is all set to be kick-off on August 18. The continental championship will see powerhouses like China, South Korea and Japan where India look to make a mark. India had finished eighth in the previous edition in Incheon in South Korea with 57 medals.
The Indian athletes bagged 11 gold, 10 silver and 36 bronze medals. However, the number of medals is likely to improve this time with Indian athletics putting up improved show over the last four years. India is going to send a strong 541-member contingent vying in 36 disciplines. A good number of athletes from city and the State will represent the country at the Games. While shuttlers lead the charge, here is a look at the other athletes in the Indian contingent.
The city-based Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu is one of the strong contenders in the Asian Games to bring a medal. However, the colour of the medal will surely depend on her performance on the D-day but, going by her form she is sure to comeback with a medal.
She has been in super form of late reaching the final of the recently-concluded World Championships in Nanjing in China. Though she failed to cross the final hurdle against Spain’s Carolina Marin to settle for a silver, her victories over top ranked players like Nozomi Okuhara, Akane Yamaguchi showed her class and form.
She has been without a title in the season so far losing in three major finals. She will be desperate to break the title drought in Jakarta.
Saina Nehwal played a key role in India’s team gold in Gold Coast in Commonwealth Games. She picked up the gold medal defeating PV Sindhu at the CWG. She also reached the final of the Indonesian Masters at the start of the year.
The London Olympic bronze medallist is a force to reckon with if she is injury free. With top players set to compete in the continental championship, she will be eager to give best. She can take the inspiration from her victory over Ratchanok Intanon in the World Championships where she became the first woman to reach the quarterfinals for the record eighth time.
Sikki Reddy has been doing well in the mixed doubles with Pranav Jerry Chopra and also with the experienced Ashwini Ponnappa. She formed a formidable partnership with the veteran Ponnappa and played her part in India’s historic team gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Though she failed to capture any medal in both events, she looks to give her best and come up with surprise results.
The selection of Gayatri Gopichand into the Indian Asian squad has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The 15-year-old has been selected after conducting two selection tournaments in Bangalore and Hyderabad. But few doubles players like Vaishnavi Jakki Reddy alleged that national chief coach Pullela Gopichand was involved in his daughter’s inclusion.
Though Badminton Association of India (BAI) cleared the air that they selection trials were done purely based on their performances and Gopichand was not involved any of the team’s selections, it didn’t go well with the fraternity.
The inconsistent form of the 25-year-old Srikanth has been a worry for the badminton fans. He had become the first Indian to win four Super Series titles last year. However, he failed to emulate the performance this year. He is yet to bag a title this year. He finished with a singles silver from Gold Coast and crashed down in earlier stages at other tournaments. Given his abilities, he has a good chance to return with a medal.
The talented Hyderabad-youngster B Sai Praneeth has the ability to produce surprises on his day. The last year’s Singapore Open Super Series winner is yet to find his top gear. He has been suffering first and second round results in recent tournaments.
But he managed to reach the quarterfinals in the recently-concluded BWF World Championships in Nanjing. If he is injury free and fit, he can be a surprise package this edition.
Satwiksairaj Ranki Reddy
The 17-year-old doubles player has been growing in stature in the doubles category. He had won India’s first ever medal in doubles in form of silver along with Chirag Shetty at the Commonwealth Games. He will be competing with Ashwini Ponnappa in the mixed doubles and men’s doubles with Chirag Shetty. Given the tough competition, he has to bring out his best to come out with flying colours.
Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri has been India’s top doubles pair for long before the young duo of Satwik and Chirag Shetty started hogging the limelight. Sumeeth and Attri have a decent show this year at the Australian Open and New Zealand open where they reached semis and quarters respectively. However, they hit out at BAI when the association exempted Satwik-Chirag pair from competing in selection tournaments in Hyderabad and Bangalore and not considering their names. He would be determined to prove that they are the best bet in doubles in the country.
Mohammed Hussamuddin (Boxing)
The highly-talented State boxer from Nizamabad is going places. He made a huge impression in his maiden Commonwealth Games appearance by bagging a bronze with a brave show. He continued his good run of form by bagging his maiden gold medal at Chemistry Cup boxing tournament in Halle, Germany in June that paved his way into the Indian Asian squad.
The 24-year-old will eye another good show in the 56kg category. With the Asian Games consisting power houses like China, the youngster has to bring out his best to return with a medal.
Gangadhari Mallesh (Kabaddi)
TS’ kabaddi player G Mallesh has created history by becoming the only kabaddi player from both Telugu speaking States to be selected to the Indian kabaddi team for Asian Games. With kabaddi yet to make it to Olympic fold, Asian Games is the highest level for them and the 28-year-old Mallesh is determined to make his maiden appearance a memorable one.
It will also be a double delight for kabaddi fans from the State as L Srinivas Reddy has been appointed as the Indian team coach. After a successful Dubai Master kabaddi tournament tour, he was given the chance to coach the side. With India being one of the strong contenders, both are almost assured to return with medals.
Pranjala Yadlapalli (Tennis)
The 18-year-old Hyderabad girl Pranjala started playing in the women’s category at the start of the year and her performances already caught the attention. Having won her maiden ITF title in Egypt in July, she had good results in the women’s event as well winning doubles ITF titles in Colombo and Thailand coupled with few runners-up trophies. The youngster had represented Indian in the Fed Cup as well and she counts on her experience to help her make a mark in the prestigious tournament.
The 34-year-old Hyderabad Shooter Rashmmi Rathore will be competing in the senior shotgun trap event. The veteran shooter has created history last year by becoming the first from the State to win a gold medal at the Asian Shotgun Championship. The shooter, who won a silver in the skeet event, however, will be representing in trap event at the Asian Games.
Budda Aruna Reddy
State gymnast Budda Aruna Reddy will be eager to bag a major medal at the Asian Games. After creating history by bagging India’s first World Cup medal in Australia, she failed to come up with a similar show in the Commonwealth Games. With the country’s top gymnast Dipa Karmakar back in the side, the focus will be on the Agartala girl and that can ease some nerves of Aruna Reddy and put up a good show.