Lawn bowls quartet open golden doors
Lawn bowls would not really ring a bell among sports enthusiasts in India but the sport sensationally won the country a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday. The Indian women’s fours lawn bowls team overcame mid-match slump to beat South Africa 17-10 in the final.
The team of Lovely Choubey (lead), Pinki (second), Nayanmoni Saikia (third) and Rupa Rani Tirkey (skip) held their nerves remarkably well to earn the distinction. This was India’s fourth gold, and the first outside the weightlifting arena, in this edition of the Games. Later, the men’s table tennis team too won gold.
The Indian team led 8-2 at one stage, but the South African side, comprising Thabelo Muvhango (lead), Bridget Calitz (second), Esme Kruger (third) and Johanna Snyman (skip), made it 8-8 to spice up the contest. The Indians then gathered themselves well stage a comeback in the last three rounds.
The ‘leader’ of the pack, Lovely is a constable with Jharkhand Police, while Rupa, who too is from Ranchi, works in the sports department. Pinki is a sports teacher with DPS R.K. Puram in New Delhi, while Nayanmoni comes from a farming family in Assam and works in the state’s forest department.
The players expect their success to “open the doors” for the sport in India. Lovely, who will turn 42 on Wednesday, said the win will go a long way in raising the profile of the sport. “We wanted to do something not only just for this team but for India. We knew that without a medal doors will remain shut. Now doors have opened,” she said. Pinki, 41, was naturally ecstatic.
“The hard work has finally paid off today, we have created history. We knew that a gold medal will create more impact, so we are happy.” Nayanmoni said the team did not lose heart even after the South Africans staged a comeback to make it 8-8. “The skip (Rupa) told us we can do it because we are a good team... T hat we should not lose focus and enthusiasm,” said Saikia.
Team manager Anju Luthra said years of toil have finally culminated in happy memories. “We were losing from very close. I have been with this team since the 2010 Games. The margins of defeats were not much in previous editions. We were losing by one point and that was not letting us sleep. “We were determined to do something this time,” she said. Sports officer Rupa felt it is a life-changing achievement.
“We had won medals in Asia-Pacific and Asian Championships in between, but we had to win this medal in CWG to attract everyone’s attention. We came into the Games with a lot determination,” she said. Asked what the team was thinking after making the final, Rupa said, “We were brimming with confidence. We wanted to go into the game with a lot of passion and determination.”