Sharath Kamal lifted his partner Subhajit Saha in joy, then rushed to his foreign coach Massimo Constantini and hugged him before turning his attention to the spectators, throwing to them his bandana and wrist band.
With the Commonwealth Games table tennis event being witness to Singapore domination so far, the top-seeded Indian men's doubles team's 9-11, 12-10, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8 victory over Gao Ning and Yang Zi in the final on Wednesday at the Yamuna Sports Complex, helped India get its first gold medal and prevent Singapore from making a clean sweep.
It must have been difficult for Sharath to play the doubles final three hours after losing a nerve-wracking match to Yang Zi of Singapore in the singles semifinals. If not for Saha, the match would have gone Singapore's way. He was the glue that kept the pair together. He was consistent thereby taking a heavy load off Sharath's shoulders.
“This gold medal is very precious for me, precious than the 2006 edition where we won gold in team and individual men's events,” said Sharath, at a press conference. “Because then we were underdogs and nobody expected us to win. It was difficult for me to concentrate during practice as my singles match (against Yang Zi) kept playing on my mind. But thanks to Saha, who played really well, we were able to pull it off,” he added.
Effort in vain
There wasn't much to cavil about Sharath's game in his 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9 loss to Yang Zi in the singles. He played his best— those backhand whips from the back of the table during tough situations and his forehand top-spin winners made the spectators go gaga. Yang made relatively lesser unforced errors towards the end. “I had my chances. I should have won the fourth game after leading 5-3. In the sixth game, he changed his service, which I was finding difficult. At least, we (India) will win a bronze,” said Sharath, who will play-off with country-mate Soumyadeep Roy.
Gao Ning was tuned in from the first point in the other men's semifinal against Soumyadeep. The top seed was spot on — aggressive and accurate playing close to the table. The 11-2, 11-2, 11-9, 11-7 victory came as no surprise. Soumyadeep took only two points on his serve in the first game and from thereon, it was Gao's show all the way. Soumyadeep got back his touch in the third game as his forehand top spin shots and receiving got a tad better. At 9-9 in the third game, Soumyadeep sent a return out, and Gao didn't look back.
When asked whether he was happy with India's medals so far, Constantini said “we are happy with the medal haul as we predicted anything between three and five medals and we are assured of four medals now,” he said.
Keywords: Commonwealth Games 2010