Chess

Hyderabad, Nov. 16: Bagging a bronze medal for the country in the chess event of the Asian Games is not something that Dronavalli Harika had on her priority list. But the medal at the Asiad made her so emotional that the 19-year-old relishes it as one of her best. “I am very happy with my achievement. This medal is for my country,” an emotional Harika told this newspaper from Guangzhou.

Harika, who became Asia’s youngest Woman Grand Master six years ago, beat Irine Sukandar Kharisma of Indonesia in the ninth and final round to secure the bronze with 6 points.

“It is my first Asian Games and I am so glad to have contributed in such a big way. I was not expecting any medals but I am glad to have won a bronze,” said the 19-year-old.

Harika had tough opponents to crack and difficult games to handle. “Even though it was an Asian event, the competition was challenging. I started off with a win but lost in the second round. The next three rounds were in my favour after which I forced the top seed to a draw. Thereafter, the two games were drawn. In the ninth game, I defeated the Iranian,” she elucidated.

According to the chess calendar this event may not be the top priority for a player but Harika was glad to be representing her country.

“During the Commonwealth Games, everyday some Indian sportspersons were winning medals. I felt so disheartened because chess wasn’t a part of the multi-disciplinary event, especially when India has such good chess players. However, the inclusion of chess in the Asiad and getting a bronze medal is something I will relish all my life,” said the former world junior champion.

The victory in the individual event will surely motivate Harika to give her best in the team event which begins on Thursday. The Indian team comprises Tania Sachdev, Harika, Tania Sachdev, Eesha Karavade, S. Meenakshi and Nisha Mohota. “I am really looking forward to the team championships as well. After a bronze medal in the individual category, I hope I can help my team triumph and we can win again,” Harika said.

In the men’s event Grandmaster Sasikaran, who was joint second on Monday, was expected to bag a medal but he lost both his matches of the last two rounds to slip to ninth position with 5.5 points.

Swimming
The 19-year-old Virdhawal Khade became the first Indian swimmer in 24 years to clinch an Asian Games medal by notching up a bronze in the men’s 50 m butterfly event.

Gymnastics
The 19-year-old Ashish Kumar won India’s first-ever Asian Games gymnastics medal: a bronze in the floor exercise. The Allahabad-born railway employee had an aggregate score of 14.92.