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CWG: India retain TT men's team gold; lifter Thakur wins silver

India’s gold in TT is their seventh since the sport's inception in 2002

PTI08_02_2022_000343A Achanta Sharath Kamal, Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran pose after winning the gold medal in the table tennis men's team event | PTI

Harmeet Desai raised his game in the decisive singles as the Indian men's table tennis team retained its Commonwealth Games gold medal after a close fight against Singapore on Tuesday.

World no. 121 Harmeet outsmarted 133rd-ranked Zhe Yu Clarence Chew 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 in the third singles to ensure India's third gold men's team medal in CWG history.

Meanwhile, Indian heavyweight lifter Vikas Thakur added yet another Commonwealth Games medal to his kitty, winning a silver in the men's 96kg.

The seasoned Thakur lifted a total of 346kg (155kg+191kg) to finish second and claim his third CWG medal across three editions.

India’s gold in TT is their seventh since the sport's inception in Manchester 2002.

India were expected to beat Singapore but Clarence accounted for veteran Sharath Kamal in the first singles to level the match at 1-1.

Harmeet and Sathiyan had little difficulty in getting past Yong Izaak Que and Ye En Koen Pang in the opening doubles.

Sathiyan had given India a 2-1 lead with a 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4 victory over lower-ranked Pang.

The standout performance came from India's third player, Harmeet.

Sharath had struggled to contain Clarence but Harmeet went on the offensive against the left-hander and ensured that he did not get room to go for his powerful forehand winners. Harmeet's backhand was also on fire as he won the majority of the long rallies.

In the first singles, Sharath went down 7-11, 14-12, 3-11,9-11 against Clarence. Whenever the Indian placed the ball deep on Clarence's forehand, the return was a winner.

Two net chords helped Sharath in the second game but Clarence comfortably won the next two. 

India had beaten a stronger opponent in Nigeria on Monday with Sharath stunning world number 15 Aruna Quadri. But his loss against a much lower-ranked opponent on Tuesday showed rankings did not matter much in a multi-sporting event.

India had won the team gold for the first time in Melbourne 2006 before repeating the feat in Gold Coast four years ago.

It was also Sharath's 10th medal in the Games history and he is set to add more with singles and doubles events to follow.

In weightlifting, it was Thakur's second silver, having finished second in the 2014 Glasgow edition as well. In Gold Coast, he returned with a bronze.

Samoa's Don Opeloge 381kg (171kg+210kg) bettered his 2018 silver by clinching gold with a record-breaking performance.

Fiji's Taniela Tuisuva Rainibogi walked away with the bronze with a total effort of 343kg (155kg+188kg).

Thakur, a five-time Commonwealth Championships medallist, had three clean lifts of 149kg, 153kg and 155kg to be in joint third-position after the snatch round.

In the clean and jerk section, Thakur started off with a 187kg lift, which he executed perfectly.

His second attempt was of 191kg, which took some effort but the Punjab lifter was able to pull it off and celebrated it with a 'thigh-five'.

With a silver assured, Thakur went for 198kg, a kilogramme more than his personal best, in his third attempt but was unsuccessful.

But the event belonged to Opeloge, who smashed the Games record in snatch, clean and jerk and total lift.

The 23-year-old Samoan celebrated his stellar show with a groovy dance at the end.

It was heartbreak for home favourite Cyrille Tchatchet who failed to register a single legal lift in clean and jerk.

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