A marauding Manika Batra created history by becoming the first Indian woman table tennis player to win a singles gold at the Commonwealth Games while Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan went down fighting in the men’s doubles to win silver in Gold Coast on Saturday.
World No. 58 Batra’s dream run in the quadrennial event continued as she blanked 50th-ranked Yu Mengyu of Singapore 4-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7) in a one-sided final.
However, it was the semifinal win over World No. 4 Feng Tianwei that meant more for the 22-year-old.
The Delhi-based paddler showed that her crucial victory against multiple Olympic medallist Feng in the team final was no fluke as she edged out the mighty Singaporean 4-3 (12-10, 5-11, 11-8, 5-11, 5-11, 11-9, 13-11) in the semifinals earlier in the day.
The Indian foxed Feng for the second time in a row with smart use of her pimpled rubber for both defense and offense. Batra showed remarkable composure and maturity to overcome a 2-3 deficit in a high-pressure final.
“This is my first individual medal in this big tournament and I am feeling really proud,” said Batra after her phenomenal effort.
On her overall Games experience, she added: “The experience was amazing - I defeated the world number four twice and now Yu to win gold. I am feeling really happy and very proud for my country.”
Batra will have the chance of winning a medal in all four categories when she pairs up with Sathiyan for the bronze medal play-off in mixed doubles.
Besides guiding India to team gold, Batra had paired up with veteran Mouma Das to win the country’s first women’s doubles silver.
India has already recorded its best-ever showing in table tennis at Commonwealth Games, winning three gold, two silver and a bronze. Two more bronze will be added if Batra -Sathiyan combine and Kamal in singles can win their respective play-offs.
Three-time CWG gold medallist Kamal tried his best against Nigeria’s 26th-ranked Aruna Quadri in men’s singles semifinals before going down 0-4 (10-12, 9-11, 9-11, 7-11). The World No. 48 takes on England’s Samuel Walker in the bronze play-off on Sunday.
The Indian great had to endure a tough loss in the men’s doubles final alongside Sathiyan later in the day. The duo lost to familiar rivals from England Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall with the final going into the fifth and final game. The English pairing prevailed 11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9.
The bronze in men’s doubles also went to India as Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty sailed past Singapore’s Poh Shao Feng Ethan and Pang Yew En Koen 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 12-10).