India win TT gold, create history
India beat Singapore 3-2 in the men's final to win gold medal for first time.Updated: Mar 20, 2006 20:57 IST
India shocked Singapore to snatch the men's table tennis team gold medal and prevent a double whammy for the city-state whose women subdued Australia in their final.
Singapore will be kicking themselves after they squandered a 2-0 lead, losing their bottle to go down 3-2 against a fired up Indian outfit.
They looked to be on their way after taking the opening two sets but inexplicably caved in for a demoralising loss.
Soumyadeep Roy was the hero, outlasting Xiao Li Cai in the deciding set to spark wild celebrations on the Indian bench.
In the men's bronze medal playoff, Nigeria, spearheaded by reigning singles champion Segun Toriloa, proved too much for Wales, winning 3-0.
Singapore's women did better, picking up where they left off four years ago, crushing any hope Australia had of revenge by defending their title.
The Singaporeans thrashed the Aussies 3-0 in the final in Manchester in 2002, and repeated the feat here, silencing a rowdy Australian crowd desperate for a home victory and handing Singapore its first gold of the Games.
Overcoming some of the world's best paddlers was always going to be a tough ask for Australia and it didn't have the weapons to shoot down Li Jiawei and her teamates.
Australia's best hope was for Jian Fang Lay or Miao Miao to beat Singapore's No.2 Xue Ling Zhang but it all went horribly wrong, with Xue setting the secne by easily winning the first game against Miao Miao.
Li took the second before a gutsy Sharon Tan wrapped it up against Jian.
"It was close, it came to a junction, but I felt I had nothing to lose and it was a situation of make or break," said Tan, the only one of three Singapore women playing who was born on the island. Li and Xue are Beijing girls.
"I was so happy to win gold for Singapore as it was our first."
Earlier, India sought divine intervention and got it with a nail-biting 3-2 victory over Canada to win the women's bronze.
Mouma Das was thrust into a crucial play-off match after rising Canadian star Mo Zhang, 17, levelled the game at 2-2.
But Das kept her nerve in the decider to clinch the medal with a narrow 3-2 triumph over Xu Hong Guang.
She said she prayed on court to "the Goddesses" to help her through.
"I prayed to the Goddesses to please give me the strength to perform well for myself and India," she said. "I felt in my heart that they heard."
She also revealed that some sound words from coach Christian Grigore had helped steady her nerves.
"He told me just to be patient -- be patient and concentrate. It worked."
Soumyadeep Roy lost to Zi Yang 5-11, 3-11, 8-11
Sharath Kamal lost to Cao Xi 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 7-11, 8-11
Shubhajit Saha beat Jason Ho 10-12, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10
Sharath Kamal beat Zi Yang 5-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7
Soumyadeep Roy beat Cai Xiao Li 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6
First Published: Mar 20, 2006 08:13 IST