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June 23, 2017

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Singapore bring home the gold after men's table tennis team competition

GLASGOW, Scotland -- Singapore have won gold in the Commonwealth Games table tennis men's team final against England in replica circumstances to their 2010 victory in New Delhi.

Their trio of Zhan Jian, Gao Ning and Li Hu prevailed 3-1 against England's Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhall and Andrew Baggaley.

Zhan, the world number 32, set Singapore up with a 3-2 win in the best of five match rubbers, as world number 134 Drinkhall's brave attempt was seen off 11-2 in the final game after the Englishman had led 2-1 in games.

Pitchford was then seen off by world number 20 Gao in straight games 11-9, 13-11, 11-3.

Baggaley and Drinkhall briefly saw England back into the match as they took the doubles 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-3 against Li and Gao, the latter who appeared four years ago.

But Baggaley was then beaten in straight games by Zhan to secure victory for Singapore with non-playing Yang Zi earning his fifth gold medal having appeared in the group stage win over Seychelles.

For Zhan, appearing in his first Commonwealth Games, the gold medal came despite picking up a thigh problem during his opening match win against Drinkhall.

"I stretched my thigh in the first game, but I got some treatment and things were OK after that, he said. "I'm really happy. Winning the gold was really not easy.

"The first match is very important and the most high pressure. Drinkhall played very well in the first two games. When it came to the deciding games, I had more experience."

Gao was pleased to ensure there was no upset but paid tribute to the English team and especially their serving.

"I'm especially delighted because the England team is really good," he said. "The English serve well, are physically strong and very quick. I'm very happy with the way I performed today.

"It's the second time I've won gold in this event, and I'm delighted because of all the effort I've put in over the past four years."

Baggaley's silver means he is now the first table tennis player to win medals at four different Games having also won medals in Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010.

"It's fantastic to win a medal," he said. "Obviously there's disappointment to not get the gold but they were the better team."

Earlier in the day, there were scenes of joy as Nigeria pulled off a minor surprise by beating India 3-1 to claim the bronze medal.

Ojo Onaolapo, ranked 488th in the world, beat Kamal Achanta, who is ranked 50th, to seal a noteworthy triumph four years after India had won 3-0 at the same stage.

Onaolapo was lifted into the air by his teammates following his 11-9, 3-11, 11-7, 11-5 victory.

"We wanted to win a medal but nobody expected us to," he said. "I'm excited, I'm happy to win. In table tennis if you have a lot of the domination you can beat anybody."

The table tennis singles event will begin on Tuesday with Singapore, who have the only top three women's players in the world in Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu and Lin Ye highly, expected to deliver.

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