Asian Games have been tough and the Olympics tougher, but the Indian paddlers have started to feel the pinch at the Commonwealth Games too, largely due to the domination of China-born players in the event.
The Indians won two gold medals – including one by top paddler Achantha Sharath Kamal – at the Melbourne Games in 2006 and one at the Delhi Games.
But they will return home without a gold this time after Sharath Kamal lost his semifinal match on Saturday to Zhan Jian, who competed for the Chinese national team for 10 years before shifting base to Singapore.
“Yes. It is a bit frustrating,” Sharath admitted. “Lot of Chinese immigrants are coming into different teams, mostly Singapore. Canada has one from China who was in the quarterfinals.”
Sharath was even more disappointed after the Singaporean pair of players of Chinese origin – Gao Ning and Li Hu – denied him and his partner Anthony Amalraj the gold in the men’s doubles on Friday. However, he was generous enough to admit that the Singapore players played better.
“The problem is that they keep changing their players. You take time to break a player but when you have done that you see them replacing him with a new player. But they know our style because we have been on the tour for years,” said the paddler.
It was for the first time in his career that Sharath played against Zhan Jian. “I have been on the international circuit for 14 years and I have not played this player before. This is not normal.”
He said that the situation is such that when he was playing the doubles semifinal against another Singapore pair on Friday, all other teams were supporting the Indians.
“When we beat them (Yang Zi and Zhan Jian) in the semifinals, everybody was very happy. It’s like all of us versus Singapore. They are monopolising everything. Last CWG, we could take one gold and Nigeria another. This time England took one. Rest were won by Singapore.”
Singapore has so far won four gold medals and is in line to add two more to its kitty. Four of five gold medals they won in Melbourne came from table tennis. In Delhi Games, the sport accounted for 6 out of a total of 11 gold medals for the country.
Indian coach Peter Engel too said that the competition at the Games was getting tougher with the presence of Chinese players. “Of course,” Engel said when asked what had affected India’s chances in the Games.
Source: Times of India