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Liam Pitchford: Birmingham gold medal feels better than Gold Coast

England’s Liam Pitchford (right) and Paul Drinkhall won gold in the table tennis doubles (Isaac Parkin/PA)
England’s Liam Pitchford (right) and Paul Drinkhall won gold in the table tennis doubles (Isaac Parkin/PA)

Liam Pitchford believes his table tennis doubles win with Paul Drinkhall is “better than the Gold Coast” after the pair won gold on Sunday.

The English duo successfully defended their doubles title won in Australia after beating India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sharath Kamal Achanta in a repeat of their gold-medal clash in 2018.

After a nervy start, England lost the first set but managed to win the next two in front of an energetic crowd at the NEC.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Day Ten
The pair won in an exact replica of their doubles win on the Gold Coast (Isaac Parkin/PA)

India levelled in the fourth set and the match came down to a crucial fifth, but England did enough to retain their Commonwealth title, with Pitchford describing the win as “amazing”.

He said: “Obviously it’s an amazing achievement and something I’m really proud of. For me this feels better than Gold Coast.

“We knew they wouldn’t give up, we’d have to fight them for every point and that’s what we did.

“It wasn’t so much tactically what we needed to do it was just fight for every point, get our legs into the ball and make them play.

“The last eight points, I thought they were probably some of the best we’ve ever played.”

Throughout the game the pair celebrated nearly every point like it was match point, but Pitchford admitted he felt the pressure after losing the fourth game.

“Personally I got a little bit nervous and that probably got into Paul as well. He tried to calm me down,” he said.

“Fifth set I just tried to come out, get myself going and play my shots and yeah, I think I definitely did that in the fifth set.”

The fifth set got off to a shaky start but the pair, who won bronze in the men’s team event earlier in the week, managed to see it out.

Drinkhall added: “I think we lost sight of playing the ball that was there and points in the game and getting stuck in the moment a little bit.

“Once we threw that out and just played table tennis then we were better.”