Winner in 2006 in Melbourne, India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta brought the table tennis events at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to a conclusion on the early afternoon of Monday 8th August; he beat England’s Liam Pitchford in five games (11-13, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7) to reclaim the precious men’s singles title.
Furthermore, since table tennis was introduced into the quadrennial gathering in 2002 in Manchester, the record breaking ten times national champion, became the first player to win the men’s singles title on two occasions.
Success and arguably for the now 40-year-old, the most successful tournament of his career.
“(It’s been) the best two weeks of my 40 years of life. It can’t get better. Maybe a gold in the men’s doubles…but I’m happy and I can’t ask for more. Yesterday’s game against Paul (Drinkhall) was harder. Against Pitch today, the first two sets (were tough), after that, I felt like I had the match in my hands, but he was still coming back. If you see the last set, I was so excited. I was almost thinking about how to celebrate the win and he was just coming back at me.” Sharath Kamal Achanta
Earlier in the proceedings he had been a member of India’s gold medal winning men’s team, prior to partnering Sreeja Akula to secure the mixed doubles top prize.
The only elusive title proved the men’s doubles, in partnership with Sathiyan Gnansekaran he had to settle for silver.
A medallist on every occasion on which he has competed, the debut being in 2006, Sharath Kamal Achanta is now the most decorated male table tennis player at the Commonwealth Games.
Most imposing the career record reads: seven gold, three silver and three bronze.
Success for Sharath Kamal Achanta came soon after colleague Sathiyan Gnanasekaran had also caused England pain by overcoming Paul Drinkhall in the bronze medal contest (11-9, 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9).
“That was really, really hard work. I cruised in the match and credit to Paul, he started to play much better and I became a little passive. I had so many chances, I would have been sleepless for a week if I had lost that. I so, so badly wanted this singles medal. It’s a match I will never forget.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran
Always remembered, it will be the same for Singapore’s Feng Tianwei. She had extended her career medal count to one more than Sharath Kamal Achanta.
Partnering Zeng Jian, the women’s doubles title was secured at the hands of Australia’s Jee Minhyung and Jian Fang Lay (11-8, 11-8, 11-8); no doubt wise words from Jing Jun Hong sitting courtside proved invaluable.
She was the first ever women’s doubles gold medallist in the table tennis events at a Commonwealth Games; in 2002 she partnered Li Jiawei to victory.
Thus, Feng Tianwei, earlier gold medallist in the women’s team and women’s singles events went through the whole tournament unbeaten, the only player to achieve the feat. She did not compete in the mixed doubles.
Additionally, she becomes the most successful female player in the history of table tennis events at the Commonwealth Games; a debut in 2010 in New Delhi, the record reads nine gold, three silver, one bronze.
Success for Feng Tianwei and Zeng Jian, for younger compatriots Wong Xin Ru and Zhou Jingyi it was defeat; in the bronze medal match they were beaten by the Welsh pairing of Charlotte Carey and Anna Hursey (16-14, 14-12, 9-11, 12-10).
Third place for Wales, notable progress but as play concluded, the day and the tournament belonged to Sharath Kamal Achanta and Feng Tianwei, the most successful players in the history of table tennis at a Commonwealth Games.
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