Birmingham: Indian veteran Sharath Kamal won the gold medal in the men’s singles table tennis at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, UK on Monday.
The Indian table tennis ace, ranked 39th, beat home favourite and second seed Liam Pitchford 4-1 (11-13, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6, 11-8) at the National Exhibition Centre.
This is Sharath’s third gold medal of Birmingham 2022 – having also won the men’s team and mixed doubles with Sreeja Akula.
The 40-year-old Sharath Kamal had won his first singles CWG gold at Melbourne 2006 and he is the only Indian man to win the singles gold medal.
“The best two weeks of my 40 years of life,” Sharath Kamal said. “It can’t get better. OK, maybe a gold in the men’s doubles [he won silver], but I’m happy and I can’t ask for more.”
The final began with some intense rallies as both players manufactured great angles for their shots and managed to reach the other’s returns. In the end, Sharath misplaced a backhand, which helped world No. 20 Pitchford take the opening game.
The Indian ace was soon in his element though, applying some great backspin on the Englishman’s serves and his immaculate placement helped him breeze through the next two games and take a 2-1 lead.
Sharath then raced to a 6-1 lead in the fourth game and despite the 29-year-old Pitchford making it 6-5 at one point, the Indian held his wits to regroup and allowed his opponent to win only one more point before going up 3-1.
With momentum firmly on his side, Sharath Kamal never let up in the fifth game, rapidly winning points with his powerful shots. He seemed to have won with an instinctive return across the table but the ball was adjudged to have hit his shirt before he returned.
However, in the very next point, Sharath Kamal played out another powerful cross-table forehand, which Pitchford was unable to return and won the gold medal.
India ended their table tennis campaign at CWG 2022 with three golds, one silver and one bronze medal.