CWG 2018: Indian medallists receive grand welcome on return

The squash team improved its medal tally, with Dipika and Saurav Ghosal winning silver in the mixed-doubles event, at Gold Coast.

Commonwealth Games (CWG) medalists (from left) Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal, along with Harinder Pal Sandhu and national coach Cyrus Poncha, arrived, late on Monday, to a grand welcome.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Commonwealth Games (CWG) medallists Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa, along with Harinder Pal Sandhu and national coach Cyrus Poncha, arrived, late on Monday, to a grand welcome, with officials from SRFI and TNOA to receive them. The duo won the women’s doubles gold four years back, in Glasgow, but had to settle for silver this time around. However, the squash team improved its medal tally, with Dipika and Saurav Ghosal winning silver in the mixed-doubles event, at Gold Coast.

“It is an exciting time for Indian squash. The support has been great from the government, federation and our personal team. We are encouraged to work harder to bring more medals, with the Asian Games in August,” said Joshna.

While it was a great event for squash, the event was surrounded by controversy, with the Indian contingent very unhappy with the refereeing standards in the event.

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“It was little unfortunate to be talking about the referee. In a game like doubles, with a lot of contact and tricky shots, it is tough and we didn't agree with some of the decisions. Even the New Zealand players agreed with us and we had a lot of support from people watching the match. Nevertheless, that is sports and we have to deal with it,” said Joshna.

Ahead of the CWG, Indian squash suffered a big blow when foreign coach Ashraf el Karagui quit following differences with the federation.

When asked if it affected the preparations, Joshna said, “It was far from ideal. The distraction was unnecessary, just before such a big event. It is something no athlete wants to deal with, especially before a big event. Nonetheless, we are professionals and deal with all kinds of challenges. We stuck together as a team with Cyrus (Poncha) and the manager, who ensured we didn’t feel that we lacked anybody’s presence.”

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Dipika added that Ashraf played a key role in her career and said she had texted the Egyptian, dedicating the two silver medals to him.

“We are used to having ups and downs. It is harsh that all this had to happen before such a big event. We had to look at the positives and not brood over it. We had to look forward and what he has taught us, off and on the court. He has played a big role in the last two years of my life.”

Dipika also added that she is going to continue working with Ashraf and is going to be based out of Egypt, with a full team set up there. “It is homely there for me and I will be training there in the summer, before the Asian games.”