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CWG 2018: Beating Singapore in Semi-final Helped Ensure Things Went to Plan, Says Sharath Kamal

The Indians came into the draw not only as the top seeds but also with unwavering determination to repeat the feats of the 2006 Melbourne Games where they won the Team Gold for the first time. India’s current captain Sharath Achanta Kamal was a young part of that team. He lost one and won a crucial tie to level things against the powerhouse Singapore.

Abhimanyu Sen |

Updated:April 11, 2018, 10:13 AM IST
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CWG 2018: Beating Singapore in Semi-final Helped Ensure Things Went to Plan, Says Sharath Kamal
(Getty Images)
New Delhi: The arrogant and clinical approach adopted in the final of the 2018 Commonwealth Games (CWG) by the Indian men’s table tennis team comprising Sharath Kamal, Harmeet Desai and G Sathiyan spoke of great confidence. The Indians came into the draw not only as the top seeds but also with unwavering determination to repeat the feats of the 2006 Melbourne Games where they won the Team Gold for the first time. India’s current captain Sharath Achanta Kamal was a young part of that team. He lost one and won a crucial tie to level things against the powerhouse Singapore.

Post that, the Indian men’s team managed one Gold, a couple of Silvers and five Bronze medals at the next two editions of the Commonweath Games. Sharath, bagged a total of four medals. Coming to Gold Coast, the team was well aware of the expectations, especially after the strenuous two year-long preparation programme that they had gone through with their new coach Massimo Costantini.

“Watching the national anthem play while the Indian flag goes up is indeed one of the best feelings ever. We were favourites for that spot, and we delivered. This Gold is redemption for Glasgow when we returned with only one medal,” Sharath told News18Sports over an email interaction.

“As captain there was added responsibility and pressure on me, but my singles wins against Singapore’s Shao Feng Ethan and Xue Jie Pang to clinch the tie gave us the perfect platform for the final against Nigeria,” the captain recollects.

The Indians played Nigeria off the table and in an hour and 20 minutes (three matches) they managed to complete India’s first ever Golden double along with Women’s team. Apart from Sharath’s singles win to get the momentum going in the first tie it was left to the young and more than able duo of G Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai to put the seal on the case. Within the team, the former is the best ranked at 47.

“Harmeet and Sathiyan have formed a great partnership and their crucial win was the doubles against Singapore. The team has been together for a couple of years, and we set the benchmark at a very high level,” says Sharath as heaps the praise on the 25-year olds.

Within the men’s set up in Indian table tennis, there are currently six players ranked within the top 100 worldwide and recently, it was G Sathiyan who dethroned his captain from the top spot in domestically.

“The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) and Sports Authourity of India (SAI) have played a huge role in ensuring our progress in recent years. The funds have been enough and channelised in the correct way. All of this began in 2016 when Costantini took over,” says Sharath who has spent a fair amount of time making his mark in the national colours.

Another aspect that, according to the Arjana Awardee, has helped Indian table tennis has been the Ultimate Table Tennis Championship.

“UTT have done a great job by bringing in some of the best players in the world and ensuring the pipeline is not ignored. In another 3 to 4 years from now, India will really reap the rewards of a league like this, and it will help us perform better at the Olympics,” says the man from Tamil Nadu.

The Indian men’s team captain also had words of praise for the Gold winning women’s team as he singled out Manika Batra’s performance as phenomenal. Batra, beat the World number 5 Tianwei Feng before finishing things off in grand style and setting the bar high for the men’s team on Sunday evening.

“Currently our teams are in a great frame of mind, especially given the history from 2014. But now it’s we have to make this count in the singles and doubles competitions,” Sharath writes looking ahead.

Sharath will be in the fray for a medal in both the singles and the doubles categories. In the latter, he will be playing with G Sathiyan as the top seeds.
“Even if it’s not another Gold, we will surely win another medal in the doubles,” he signs off.

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| Edited by: Abhimanyu Sen
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