CWG 2018: India's table tennis gold medal winner Kamal was clueless in final at first!
Ace paddler Sharath admits he was clueless after a poor start in the final, but refocussed to lead India to historic table tennis team gold
Members of the Indian TT team, Sharath Kamal (centre), Harmeet Desai (left) and G Sathiyan. Pic/PTI
Achanta Sharath Kamal, who led the Indian men's table tennis team to a historic gold with a 3-0 win over Nigeria in the final at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) here yesterday, admitted that he was clueless at one stage over how to come back in the game against Bode Abiodun after going down meekly in the opening tie of the contest.
Indian men's outfit beat Singapore 3-2 in the semi-finals before finishing on top of the podium. The seasoned paddler gave India an early 1-0 lead with a come-from-behind 4-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 win over Abiodun in the first singles match.
"It was a very difficult game. Being one set down, I did not know how I would make a comeback. Then, I started to concentrate more and played an aggressive game. Luckily, it worked out in my favour," Sharath told mid-day yesterday from Australia. Just like his senior teammate, G Sathiyan too fumbled in the first game, but bounced back to outplay 2002 Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist Segun Toriola 10-12, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4.
"We were disappointed when Sathiyan lost the opening game too. Things got a bit difficult for us, but credit to him for focussing and managing to win the second match." Sathiyan then teamed up with Harmeet Desai to beat Abiodun and Olajide Omotayo 11-8, 11-5, 11-3 to complete a memorable win.
Achanta Sharath Kamal
Making the moment count
The paddler felt the youngsters in the team rose to the occasion to help the country register this memorable feat. "It was good to see Sathiyan and Harmeet team up well in doubles. They dominated their opponents in the final. Without their support, it would not have been possible for me to win gold." India's performance is already a marked improvement from its disappointing showing in 2014 Glasgow Games when it managed just a silver in men's doubles.
When asked how crucial this win is for Indian TT, Sharath said: "This victory shows the sport in the country is improving. Player are getting the right kind of exposure. Since the Rio Olympic Games, we have been doing pretty well. Now, we must take this form into the World Championships (in Sweden from April 29 to May 6)."
'Melbourne gold better'
Despite the historic win, Sharath, who was also part of the men's team which won the gold in the Melbourne edition, said the 2006 medal victory is close to his heart. "We were the top seeds here, so a medal was expected, while in 2006, we were underdogs, so the Melbourne win matters more."
With individual and doubles medals still on offer, Sharath, now, wants to turn his focus on upcoming matches. "I want to win more medals here, so I'll be focussing on the remaining matches. Only after that I can say how I rate my performance in this Games compared to previous editions."
This is India's second gold medal in table tennis team event after the women's team claimed the yellow medal by drubbing highly-fancied Singapore on Sunday. Sharath termed the women's team victory as a remarkable feat.