(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) Paddlers Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee's remarkable journey concluded with a historic bronze medal at the Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, China. In the closely-contested women's table tennis doubles semifinal, the Indian duo faced a tough challenge against North Korea and ultimately lost 3-4 on a Monday.
The final scoreline of their encounter with Suyong Cha and Sugyong Pak was 11-7, 8-11, 11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 2-11. Despite the loss, Sutirtha and Ayhika secured the bronze medal, a significant achievement that followed their sensational victory over the world champions from China in the quarterfinals.
With this outcome, India's representation in the Games came to an end. The bronze medal came as a pleasant surprise, as the Indian pair had defeated the formidable Chinese duo of Meng Chen and Yidi Wang earlier in the competition.
Back in 2018, India had already made history with an unprecedented bronze in the men's team and mixed doubles events.
The key difference in the Monday semifinal compared to the quarterfinal was that the North Korean opponents were less troubled by Ayhika's anti-spin rubber, unlike the rattled Chinese pair.
"We failed to show the patience which they did. We were a little nervous in the last game and they attacked well to finish the points," said Sutirtha.
"But we are happy for a podium finish, the first in women's doubles," added Ayhika.
In the final game, the Indians needed to maintain their attack but struggled to do so. The North Koreans took control with a counter-offensive, establishing a 6-1 lead. Unfortunately, the spirited Indian pair couldn't find a response, and their fate was sealed when Sutirtha's forehand hit the net.
Nevertheless, this achievement was monumental for the Indian athletes, and they are now poised to build on their success in the future.
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