CHENNAI: The Commonwealth Games is over and it’s time for athletes to return home. Successful participants are usually handed a warm reception and it was no different for table tennis star A Sharath Kamal and squash medallists Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa, who came back to the city on Tuesday.
“I am happy with my performance, especially winning the last match, which was for the bronze medal in men’s singles. We started with the team gold as top seeds. We were top seeds in men’s doubles too, but got silver. I am satisfied with the way I performed,” said Sharath. Does he regret the men’s doubles silver? “The English pair played very well and were better than us in some aspects of the game. I was very sad that night, but the singles bronze made up for that loss,” said the 35-year old.
The veteran regards his exploits at the 2006 Games as his best. “Personally, 2006 was the best. The two gold medals I won are special as that gave me an identity. I was never a favourite to win but went on to create history. The kind of attention table tennis and I got was very new,’’ replied Sharath.National squash coach Cyrus Poncha lauded his players. “Bringing home two silver medals is a good achievement. Of course we would have loved to win a gold but that’s sport.
We lost two finals to teams who played better than us,’’ he told Express. Even though they could not defend the title won in 2014, Joshna and Dipika expressed happiness. “In four years, much has happened in squash. We were on the podium then and the goal was not to miss that again. To that extent, it was satisfactory. We can win more medals at the Asian Games,” said Joshna.
Joshna had a word of praise for Dipika and Saurav Ghosal, who secured silver in mixed doubles. “They played so well to make it to the final. They were really unlucky not to win that.” So what are the areas the players need to improve in doubles? “Doubles in squash is not played actively on the circuit. Our players have good coordination and chemistry, hence not much needs improvement,” observed coach Cyrus.
Dipika said she would be training hard for the Asian Games, mostly with former India coach Ashraf el Karagui. The Tamil Nadu Olympic Association secretary JM Fernando, joint secretary Balaji Mardapa and Squash Rackets Federation of India treasurer S Balasubramaniyan greeted the squash team members upon their arrival. State table tennis association DV Sundar and fans were present to welcome Sharath.