Men join table, clinch team TT gold

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Apr 2018 11:02:59


 

 

GOLD COAST

INDIA swept the table tennis team events of the Commonwealth Games as the men matched the women to seal a memorable gold with an emphatic 3-0 win over Nigeria in the final on Monday.It is the first time since the racket sport’s induction into the Commonwealth Games program that India has topped both categories. After Manika Batra fired India to a historic triumph over Singapore on Sunday, the Sharath Kamal led men’s outfit too beat the team from the city state 3-2 in the semi-finals, played earlier on Monday.Kamal, who has four CWG gold medals to his name now, set the ball rolling by beating Bode Abiodun in the opening singles. The experienced Indian was sluggish to start with, losing the first game. From the second game onwards, 48th-ranked Kamal was his usual self, unleashing forehand drives on either side of the table. His power and range of strokes was too hot to handle for the Nigerian as Kamal completed a 4-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 win. Just like his senior team-mate, G Sathiyan too fumbled in the first game but bounced back in style to outplay 2002 CWG singles gold medallist Segun Toriola 10-12, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4.


India was now one step away from the gold and 46th-ranked Sathiyan teamed up with Harmeet Desai to cross the finishing line. The Indian duo defeated Abiodun and Olajide Omotayo 11-8, 11-5, 11-3 to complete a memorable triumph.“It’s amazing (feeling) and gold on the debut is a great feeling. It will take time to sink in. It’s the best moment for me and I hope to continue this form in the singles too,” Sathiyan told PTI after team’s win.“I was moving fantastically, my legs were fast and my mind was fast. I was playing my best game. I was quicker on my first attack and timing the ball well. Bode is older and a bit slower and he likes to put more balls on the table so I varied the speed so he had no time to adjust his shots. I was serving and receiving very well,” he added.An ecstatic Deasi is hoping for a hero’s welcome when they return home.


“We didn’t expect both teams to win, we were very motivated and had nothing to lose. When we return to India we’re going to be heroes, having won the gold medal for both the men’s and women’s team events,” Desai said. “We were well prepared and the game went as we had planned. Nigeria is a very tough team to play against.
“This is sweet revenge for losing the bronze medal match in Glasgow 2014,” he concluded.With individual and doubles medals still on offer, India’s performance is already a marked improvement from its disappointing showing in Glasgow four years ago when it just managed just a silver in men’s doubles. It was none other than Nigeria who beat India for bronze in the previous edition. Kamal, arguably India’s finest ever player, was also part of the men’s team which won the gold in the 2006 Melbourne edition.


India’s unprecedented effort at the Gold Coast Games is also a fair reflection of the sport’s fast improving standard in the country.As many as six players are in the top-100 of the men’s world rankings and two in the women’s standings. The final against Nigeria was rather straight forward for the men as compared to the semi-final against Singapore, against whom they had to work much harder.
The Indian side also benefited from the absence of World No 26 Aruna Quadri, Nigeria’s highest-ranked player. Toriola is ranked second highest at 166.