Satwik-Chirag were the only duo to defeat the gold medallists at the Tokyo Olympics
Twist of fate aside, Satwik-Chirag can take pleasure in the fact that they were the only ones to pummel the World No. 3 gold medallist pair at the Tokyo Olympics.
By this point, we are purely convinced that Lady Luck and the Sisters of Fate can also have an erroneous day out at the office as World No. 10 Indian duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics even after defeating the eventual gold medallists, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Chinese Taipei.
Yes, read that once more and let out that big sigh because sports can be a cruel place and the Wheels of Fortune do not spin in favourable directions and it clearly did not for Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty who made their debut at the Tokyo Olympics. The spirited youngsters headed to the Japanese capital well-knowing that they have been dealt the toughest hand as they got placed in Group A of the draw.
Not losing heart at all, Satwik-Chirag, with 2012 London Olympics silver medallist in Men's Doubles, Mathias Boe at the coaching helm, set out to conquer the risky territories. None of the match-ups were easy and they were given a difficult puzzle to solve at their first attempt itself as they had to face-off against the World No. 3 pair of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin, who had been on a title-rampage this whole season.
And thus, it began. The dark horses of the event, Satwik-Chirag entered the contest against the Chinese Taipei pair and displayed a body language that would generate sheer chills as they commanded the match. Pocketing the first game in 17 minutes, Satwik-Chirag made a fantastic start and pushed the Taipei pair's back against the wall before they began to resist in the second game. Needing 20 minutes of intense badminton, the World No. 3 pair wrestled out the second game from the motivated Indian pair and towed the match to a decider.
This was perhaps the most climactic game as there were rapid exchanges of service and switching of match points at every alternate second - making the match just about anybody's to take. Yet, Satwik-Chirag were not to be denied on their first outing and showed great character to miraculously close out the match after offering a nail-biter to win, 16-21, 21-16, 25-27.
Satwik-Chirag almost survived the Group of Death...but
Having won their first match and defeated the Chinese Taipei pair and ended their 15-match winning streak most heroically, Satwik-Chirag set up a date with the World No. 1 Indonesian pair of Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo - also known as The Minions. The nerves were tizzy for this encounter as the Minions held a 8-0 lead over the Indian pair and it did seem unlikely that the ninth outing could be different.
And there it was, Chirag Shetty hurt his toe at the net post early into the first game and after that, the World No. 10 couldn't really get their rhythm going and the Minions cooked up mischief and attacked away to win the encounter, 21-13, 21-12 in 32 minutes.
But hey, there was one more match and perhaps a splinter of hope still for this duo to make it to the quarters - they only needed the Chinese Taipei pair to lose once more to the Minions. Surely that wasn't the most absurd of asks, right? The Minions did boast of a 3-0 lead against them and so it should be an open and shut job and Satwik-Chirag would be able to qualify for the knockout stages.
But, to circle back, Lady Luck and the Sisters of Fate and a certain off-day at the office decided to play perfect spoilsport for Satwik-Chirag. Minutes before the World No. 10 pair headed in to play their final group stage match against World No. 18 pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy, they found out they had been knocked out of the Tokyo Olympics. The Chinese Taipei pair, visibly shaken by their first loss, picked themselves up quickly and even handed the Minions a defeat, which pushed the Indian pair to the 3rd spot on the group draw and thus out of the medal contention. Only the top 2 teams out of every group were eligible to play the knockout rounds and therefore even though the Indians dominated the British pair and won in straight games, they failed to qualify because of the previous results and the results of the other opponents in the fray.
After that, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin did not lose a single match and showed impeccable form to go ahead and win Chinese Taipei its first-ever medal in badminton and a golden one at that too. Another gold for Taipei also beckons as Tai Tzu-ying, the World No. 1 is slated to contest for it in the Women's Singles Final against top seed, Chen Yufei. But yes, history will remember this as will Satwik-Chirag that they did the impossible at the Tokyo Olympics - as they were the only ones to defeat the gold medallists - no matter how their Fate panned out.