Pakistan’s Faizan Zahoor denied Sri Lanka the clean sweep when he secured a gold medal for the hosts who ended as the runners-up in the South Asian Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships which concluded here at the Toyota Gymnasium of the Habib Public School on Sunday.
Kamalia-born Faizan snared gold in the cadet boys singles when he upstaged Harshana Karadawala of Sri Lanka 3-0 in the final 11-9, 11-4, 11-7.
“I am happy that I finally broke Sri Lanka’s golden run,” Faizan told ‘The News’ after his fine performance.
He was not happy with his preparation though. “We practised for just four days. You cannot deliver through such a light training,” said Faizan, who is a 9th class student of City School in Lahore.
“Although in the cadet competitions we showed some resolve, in junior category Sri Lanka have improved a lot,” said Faizan, who has also played in China Open.
Faizan defeated his teammate Ummam Khawaja 3-1 in the semi-final 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8.
Sri Lanka won the rest of the gold medals of the singles events which included cadet girls singles, junior boys singles and junior girls singles.
Sri Lanka emerged as overall champions with nine gold medals, four silver and one bronze.
“It was the best-ever performance of our players in the history of the event,” Sri Lanka’s manager Mrs RSA Tenekoon told ‘The News’.
“In the last event we had won one gold and that too against India. I am also the vice-president of Sri Lanka Table Tennis Federation. Since taking over the sport’s administration we have launched a vigorous campaign to build the base. We plan to send those who performed well here abroad for training,” Tenekoon said.
Sri Lanka got full advantage of the absence of strong India and claimed so many medals for the first time.
Sri Lanka qualified for the Asian Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships which will be hosted by Thailand in Bangkok in September.
India, who were denied Pakistani visas, will be automatic qualifiers for the Bangkok competitions because of their strong standing.
Pakistan finished second with one gold, three silver and six bronze medals. Pakistan’s silvers came in the cadet boys, junior boys team events and junior boys doubles. Their bronze medals were in the junior boys singles, junior girls doubles, cadet boys singles, junior girls team event, cadet girls team event and junior girls doubles.
Sri Lanka took silvers in cadet girls singles, cadet boys singles, junior girls singles and junior boys singles. They won bronze medal in cadet boys singles.
Maldives finished third with two silver and five bronze, while Nepal claimed one silver and seven bronze medals.
Results: Cadet boys singles final: Faizan Zahoor (Pak) bt Harshana Karadawala (Sri Lanka) (3-0) (3-0) 11-9, 11-4, 11-7.
Semi-finals (cadet boys singles): Harshana Karadawala (Sri) bt Helitha Hendawitharana (Sri) (3-1) 12-10, 11-7, 11-13, 11-7, Faizan Zahoor (Pak) bt Ummam Khawaja (Pak) (3-1) 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8.
Cadet girls singles final: Imasha de Silva (Sri) bt Thanushi N. Rodrigo (Sri) (3-2) 8-11, 11-4, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7.
Semi-finals (cadet girls singles): Thanushi N. Rodrigo (Sri) bt Aishath Rafa (Mal) (3-1) 11-3, 11-4, 11-13, 11-7, Imasha de Silva (Sri) bt Diksha Dahal (Nepal) (3-1) 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6.
Junior boys singles final: Udaya Ranasingha (Sri) bt Krishan Wikkranarathna (Sri) (4-1) 8-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8.
Semi-finals (junior boys singles): Krishan Wikkranarathna (Sri) bt Obaid Shah (Pak) (4-0) 11-8, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6, Udaya Ranasingha (Sri) bt Fahad Khawaja (Pak) (4-1) 12-10, 10-12, 11-3, 11-9, 11-5. Junior girls singles final: Chamathsara Fernando (Sri) bt Hansani Piumila (Sri) (4-1) 11-3, 15-13, 14-12, 11-7.
Semi-finals (junior girls singles): Hamathsara Fernando (Sri) bt Sonu Thapa (Nep) (4-0) 11-5, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5, Hansani Piumila (Sri) bt Aishath Rafa (Mal) (4-0) 11-2, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5. (Courtesy The News International)