Who is Rupa Rani Tirkey?
- The Women's lawn bowl fours delivered gold for India
- The quartet defeated South Africa 17-10 in the gold medal clash
- The Indian skip Rupa Rani Tirkey was brilliant throughout, directing the rest with aplomb
Lawn Bowls was alien to most Indians till yesterday. But four middle-aged women gently knocked the leisurely sport into the nation's conscience. Defeating New Zealand and South Africa in the Commonwealth Games semi-final and finals, the Indian women's lawn bowls fours team did the unthinkable- snatch a gold medal at Birmingham.
Against South Africa, India was 8-10 down going into the final four ends, but a stunning charge ensured a 17-10 win and top spot at the podium. Team skip Rupa Rani Tirkey has been crucial to their success, directing tactics and working out shooting strategies with aplomb.
The 34-year-old from Ranchi, Jharkhand, has experience in spades, having represented India in three Commonwealth Games- triples in 2010, triples and fours in 2014, pairs and fours in 2018- before the Birmingham Games, where she'll don the Indian sky blue in the triples as well. Part of the fours team that came agonisingly close to a medal at the previous edition in Gold Coast- winning section B but losing in the quarters to Malta. Thrice medallist at the Asia Pacific Bowls Championship- the latest being bronze at the 2019 championships in Gold Coast- Rupa Rani has built up an enviable career on the lawns.
In Birmingham, Rupa and team- Lovely Choubey (lead), Pinki Singh (second) and Nayanmoni Saikia (third)- suffered defeat against England in their opening encounter. Undeterred, they reeled off five wins on the trot, culminating in the gold medal against South Africa.
Apart from the defeat to England and the nail-biter against New Zealand in the semis, the quartet enjoyed a smooth passage at the games, winning easily against the Cook Islands, Canada and Norfolk Islands.
In the women's triples, Rupa & Co. have begun well, downing New Zealand 11-15 in a tight clash. With matches against England and Niue to follow, Rupa Rani will be angling for another gold at the Games.