by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The no.3 seed, at the final hurdle he beat Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna in a six games contest that enthralled the packed to capacity Oxenford Studios (11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-5), winning the close fifth game after taking a “Time Out” when trailing 4-5 proved vital.
“Winning the fifth game was important but it was very difficult to predict the outcome of the match until the last point had finished. It was one of those matches were sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It could have gone either way. Today I felt very calm. Twice I’ve been the runner up, now the winner but at the Commonwealth Games I’ve won Men’s Team and Men’s Doubles gold medals before; sure I’m happy to win, I just did my best.” Gao Ning
Success for Gao Ning who was guided throughout by the very astute, Liu Jiayi, the national coach; he had the tactics organised to perfection.
“Gao Ning played very well today, he had a very strong head; maybe helps that he’s getting old! He needed to sometimes play wide to the forehand of Quadri Aruna and then switch the direction to the backhand. He had some problems returning Quadri Aruna’s service but he adapted. In the rallies it was important he kept changing the direction of the play.” Liu Jiayi
Gold for Singapore, silver for Nigeria, it was bronze for India.
“Not the result that I wanted but I am still very satisfied with my performance and silver is better than bronze. I want to say thanks to the best club in the world, Sporting Clube de Portugal for giving me the opportunity to represent my country here in Australia and to all the people cheering and supporting me, I want to say you are all well appreciated. To colleagues, I say thanks for the unlimited support and to my beautiful wife thanks for the great role you played for making me not to lose hope of coming to Australia at a time of sickness. It’s time to return to Portugal and face the next challenge in Portuguese League semi-final.” Quadri Aruna
Guided as always by Massimo Costantini, Sharath Kamal Achanta, the no.4 seed, beat England’s Sam Walker, the no.8 seed to secure the bronze medal (11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10). It was a contest in which the national pride was at stake.
Furthermore, Sharath Kamal Achanta was in need of a win; on the penultimate day of play he had lost to Quadri Aruna in the semi-finals of the Men’s Singles event; partnering Mouma Das he experienced defeat at the same stage of the Mixed Doubles competition and then with Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in the Men’s Doubles final. Furthermore, in opening match of the final day it had been a Mixed Doubles reverse.
“The Indian team has done really well here, Max told me before the match that I was not playing for myself but for my country. I’d had nine matches without defeat; then four losses in a row. All the matches it takes its toll, this morning Mouma was in tears after we lost in Mixed Doubles bronze match. In the third game against Sam I led 9-7 and lost, I didn’t keep things tight. Later in the fifth game I was ahead 9-5 and I started to think how I was going to celebrate.” Sharath Kamal Achanta
Furthermore, Sharath Kamal Achanta had words of consolation for Sam Walker.
“We should have two bronze medals, we have played so many matches, day after day; Sam goes away with nothing.” Sharath Kamal Achanta
Yet another medal for India and celebrations but the most controlled celebration was that of the stoic Gao Ning; he just nodded his head and before greeting anyone else, he shook hands with his opponent. It was the perfectly correct way to behave. I applaud Gao Ning.