Birmingham: At age of 40, Sharath Kamal turned the clock back to win the Men’s Singles title after 16 years to cap a memorable four-medal haul; badminton star PV Sindhu and men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy added a gold medal to the silver they won four years back while Lakshya Sen won the men’s singles for complete domination of the individual competitions as India ended the Commonwealth Games here with a flourish on Monday.
The men’s hockey team’s disastrous 0-7 thrashing by World No 1 Australia was a bit of a dampener but the silver they won was still a gain as India had failed to win a single medal in hockey at the Gold Coast edition in 2018.
G Sathiyan, India’s highest-ranked table tennis player picked up a bronze medal in men’s singles to add to the gold in Men’s Team competition and silver in Men’s Doubles.
India thus ended its campaign in the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games with a total of 61 medals — 22 gold, 16 silver, and 23 bronze medals.
The 61 medals that its sportspersons bagged in Birmingham meant that India finished fourth in the medals table, behind Australia (178), England (176), and Canada (92).
India’s total haul in Birmingham was five less than the 66 that India had won four years back in the Gold Coast and points to a significant improvement by the country’s sportspersons as India lost out on a number of medals because of the absence of shooting, a sport that it dominated in 2018. Going by India’s record at Gold Coast, India’s medal haul would have been much higher if shooting and archery, another sport that it dominates at the Commonwealth level, were included in the programme.
The day, however, belonged to Sharath Kamal as he managed to turn back the clock and win his second gold medal in men’s singles, 16 years after he won the first. On Monday, Sharath defeated England’s Liam Pitchford 4-1 in the final to bag his fourth medal at Birmingham — gold in men’s team competition, gold in mixed doubles with Sreeja Akula and the silver in men’s doubles with G Sathiyan.
Sathiyan redeemed himself by winning the bronze medal by beating Paul Drinkhall in a pulsating encounter that went to the wire as the Indian won 4-3 (11-9, 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 10-12, 9 – 11).
Two-time Olympics medallist Sindhu bagged her maiden Women’s Singles gold at the Commonwealth Games as she defeated Michelle Li of Canada 21-15, 21-13 in a rather one-sided final despite not being fully fit as she had suffered an Achilles niggle during the semifinal win. Sindhu, the highest-seeded player here, was not tested much in Birmingham as she won all of her matches rather comfortably. Her only regret for her would be the mixed team’s defeat to Malaysia in the final.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty too claimed a maiden Men’s Doubles gold, living up to their ranking as the World’s seventh best pair. They defeated Ben Lane and Sean Vendy of England in straight games — 21-15, 21-13.
Lakshya Sen claimed the men’s singles title in Commonwealth Games for India after 14 when Paupalli Kashyap won what was India’s third title in this category. Sen, the highest-ranked Indian player in the BWF rankings Sen came back after losing the first set to prevail over Tze Yong Ng of Malaysia, 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 to win his second medal at Birmingham.
Overall, it was a good performance by the Indians at Birmingham. The medal count was expected to be lower than the previous edition because of the absence of shooting from the programme but in the end other sports like athletics, lawn bowls, and judo made up for the deficit. Wrestling and Weightlifting remained the major medal winners for India while badminton and table tennis too contributed to the total tally.