Sharath and Sathiyan, the awesome twosome

Unlike Sharath, who participated in his fourth Commonwealth Games, Sathiyan made a memorable debut and matched his senior’s collection — a team gold, a doubles silver and a mixed doubles bronze.

Winning combination: Achanta Sharath Kamal and and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in action in the men’s team event.   -  Getty Images

Manika Batra has suddenly become the toast of the country. Without doubt, her consistent performances in Gold Coast, transcended everything else. She figured in 18 matches and won 16 on way to two gold medals, a silver and a bronze.

At the same time, there were some others who made history but could not match it to the level of Manika’s performances.

Sharath Kamal, champion in 2006, took his collection of Commonwealth Games medals to nine! In Gold Coast, he collected the team gold, a doubles silver and the individual bronze.

Unlike Sharath, who participated in his fourth Commonwealth Games, Sathiyan made a memorable debut and matched his senior’s collection — a team gold, a doubles silver and a mixed doubles bronze.

The icing on the cake

“It was indeed the icing on the cake,” said Sharath indicating to the bronze he claimed by blasting England’s Samuel Walker off the arena. “I was unhappy with my performance against Aruna (Quadri) in the semifinals. But I really moved well and executed the plans well against Walker. I value this medal much more than some of the other medals I have won in all these years.”

 

Sharath Kamal

G. Sathiyan

Age

35

25

Grip

Shakehand

Shakehand

Current ranking

48

46 (as on May 2, 2018)

Best ranking

32 (May, 2015)

46

Strengths

Powerful top-spin drives on either flank

Good timing, accuracy and forehand counter-attack

Weakness

Relatively weaker on the backhand while defending

Needs to work on backhand counter-attack

 

Sharath, the country’s most successful player in the game and a genial ambassador of Indian table tennis, said, “The overall performance of the Indians (in Gold Coast) is good for the game in the country. I hope we get more patrons to support the sport. I wish television comes in, in a big way to project our players. What Manika (Batra) achieved is phenomenal. I have not seen her play like this. In fact, I told her, I am passing the mantle to you now. You are young and I am confident you will take it further. Keep working hard.”

Sathiyan, the country’s top ranked player, was pleased with his display in his first ever multi-discipline event. “I was excited from the moment I made the Indian team. We performed well as a team and I am happy, I could play to expectations. I was particularly pleased with the way I pulled off my singles match against Segun Toriola in the team final against Nigeria. Even in the doubles that followed, Harmeet and I gave nothing away to seal the gold medal.

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“Reaching the doubles final was also very satisfying. Barring some errors of judgement in the final, we could have won the gold after battling back to take the lead. But it’s part of the game and I’m not complaining.”

Looking back, unlike in shooting, weightlifting, boxing, wrestling and badminton — where India more or less lived up to the expectations, the eight-medal haul from the table tennis squad clearly stands out.

What more, from the 22-year-old Manika to the 35-year-old Sharath — the youngest and the oldest in the team — the energy and the intensity on view was unprecedented. And so were the rewards in terms of medals!