Gao Ning wins two golds on final day
But Singapore paddlers' gold haul drops from six to three and STTA official admits review is needed
Third time was indeed the charm for Singaporean paddler Gao Ning.
Twice before, he had been beaten to the Commonwealth Games men's singles title by his fellow countrymen - Yang Zi in 2010 and Zhan Jian in 2014.
But the world No. 47 was not to be denied a third time yesterday, after fending off Nigeria's world No. 26 Quadri Aruna in a 4-2 (11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-5) victory.
Gao's win came off the back of a mixed doubles triumph earlier in the morning.
The 35-year-old teamed up with Yu Mengyu to oust English pair Ho Tin-Tin and Liam Pitchford 3-0 (12-10, 12-10, 11-9) in a closely contested mixed doubles final at the Oxenford Studios on the Gold Coast.
On managing the pressure of playing back-to-back finals, he said: "At that point, I didn't think too much and just fought to the best of my ability.
"I'm glad that we managed to win the gold medal in both events."
I didn’t think too much and just fought to the best of my ability.Gao Ning, on playing back-to-back finals in the mixed doubles and men’s singles
Yesterday's double was a positive denouement to an underwhelming campaign for the nation's paddlers.
Their haul of three golds, two silvers and a bronze paled in comparison to their near flawless performance at the 2014 Games that saw them reap six golds, two silvers and two bronzes.
Singapore Table Tennis Association senior high-performance manager Eddy Tay admitted that the team were below par in this year's Games.
In a phone interview with The New Paper, he said: "We didn't do as well as we thought we could. In the women's team, we didn't win the team event and women's singles, which was not expected."
Tay said that India's unstoppable and unpredictable Manika Batra, who beat Singapore's world No. 4 Feng Tianwei twice, had a huge hand in foiling Singapore's ambitions.
He also feels that lapses in mental strength and technical skills were what impeded them, saying: "One reason could be our mental toughness, especially some of the crucial matches where we couldn't hang on to the lead.
"We need to learn from our mistakes and where we went wrong, be it the mental side, the technical side."
The paddlers will be reviewing their performance ahead of their next major meets - the world championships in Sweden at the end of the month and the Asian Games in August.
But Tay commended young paddlers Ethan Poh, 19, and Koen Pang, 15, for putting up a formidable showing on their Games debut.
The unranked men's doubles pair made it to the men's doubles semi-finals, after stunning Nigeria's world No. 31 duo Aruna and Segun Toriola 3-1 (11-13, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8) in the quarter-finals before losing to India's Sharath Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in the last four.
Tay said: "They really performed very well. It was a pity that they didn't win (men's doubles), but it's also a learning process for them and it builds onto their experience.
"With hard work, I hope that both of them can win some medals in Birmingham in four years."