Saurav Ghosal settles for silver, golden dream remains unfulfilled for India's squash icon
Saurav Ghosal's quest for the elusive gold medal continues as he goes down to Eain Yow of Malaysia in the men's singles final at the Asian Games 2023.
India's squash star Saurav Ghoshal, at 37, was harbouring the hope of winning his maiden men's singles gold at the Asian Games 2023. But that hope was dashed when he suffered a heartbreaking 1-3 defeat to Malaysia's Ng Eain Yow in the final on Thursday.
In 2022, Saurav made history by clinching India's first-ever singles medal in squash at the Commonwealth Games. He broke down in tears that day, after adding another feather to his illustrious career.
Fast forward to Thursday, the seasoned athlete faced another pivotal moment – the Asian Games final against Eain Yow. Though the gold medal slipped through his grasp, Saurav's demeanour remained remarkably composed.
Hailing from Kolkata, West Bengal, Saurav's journey in squash began at the Calcutta Racquet Club. His formative years were spent at Lakshmipat Singhania Academy before he moved to Chennai, where he honed his skills at the ICL Squash Academy, under the guidance of Major (Rtd) Maniam and Poncha.
At 37, Saurav Ghosal doesn't fit the stereotype of an ageing athlete. There is an aura of calmness that surrounds his game, making it appear almost effortless. While younger opponents may engage in aggressive rallies, Saurav relies on a strategic approach that defies his age. His game is proof of the adage that age is just a number, and he embodies it with elegance.
Saurav's achievements read like a litany of firsts. He was the first Indian to hold the Junior World No. 1 ranking and the first to win the Junior National Championship for three consecutive years. In 2006, he secured India's first squash medal at the Doha Asian Games. His remarkable journey continued with victories like the German Open in 2002, a top-10 world ranking in 2019 which was a first for India, and a professional career spanning over two decades.
With nine medals in the Asian Games, including two golds, and consistent podium finishes since 2006, Saurav Ghosal's dominance in Asian squash remains unrivalled. He added a bronze and a mixed doubles gold at the World Doubles Championships to his illustrious career, not to mention multiple PSA Tour titles. Despite being India's most decorated squash player, Saurav remains approachable and humble. He graciously fulfils every fan's request for a selfie or autograph, even in the face of defeat.
Wait for the gold continues
The final against Eain Yow in the Asian Games was a nail-biting affair. Saurav Ghosal, ranked 19th in the world, faced off against the 18th-ranked Malaysian. He initially trailed by five points but mounted a remarkable comeback to win the first game. What stood out was his unshakable composure, even when facing a significant deficit. There were no extravagant celebrations, only a quiet determination to perform at his best.
The second set saw another 2-0 lead for Eain Yow, and despite a valiant effort, Saurav lost it narrowly 9-11. The third and fourth sets witnessed Saurav fighting hard, but he eventually had to concede the gold medal he had dreamt of, losing the final 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 7-11 in a gruelling 72-minute clash.
It could happen in sports and life that luck is not always with you. But in the end, irrespective of the colour of the medal, Saurav will always be known as the original legend of Indian squash.
Saurav may not have added another gold to his cabinet on this occasion, but he remains a shining example of how one man can change the face of a sport in a nation like India.