Liam Pitchford admits winning his first Commonwealth Games gold is “a weight off his shoulders” as he returns from Australia with a total of three medals and a new status as England’s record table tennis medal-winner.
Pitchford, part of the England team which won bronze in week one, added men’s doubles gold alongside Paul Drinkhall and then mixed doubles silver with Tin-Tin Ho, repeating their feat from Glasgow 2014.
He could not add a singles medal, going out in the quarter-finals, but his haul took his total to eight medals from the last three Commonwealths – one gold, four silver and three bronze – to move two ahead of Andrew Baggaley as England’s record-holder.
The men’s doubles gold medal match was a thriller as the English pair defeated India’s Sharath Achanta & Sathiyan Gnanasekaran in five tense games 3-2 (11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8).
Pitchford, 24, said: “We were 2-1 down but felt like we’d won the three sets so we knew if we carried on playing we could still win the match.
“There were a few loose moments in the match but at the end we did what we needed to do.
“I’ve wanted that gold medal and to get it was a weight off my shoulders and it helped a lot for me to relax going into the mixed doubles final the next day.”
That final, against Gao Ning & Yu Mengyu of Singapore was another tense one and the English pair had game points in each of the first two sets but could not capitalise as they were beaten 3-0 (12-10, 12-10, 11-9).
“Obviously I’m proud and happy to get a silver medal but tinged with a little bit of disappointment, you never want to lose a final,” said Pitchford. “It was a close match. The first two sets we had set points and if we’d taken one of them maybe it would have been a different match.
“We played the right way but maybe their experience told at the end in the crucial points. I’m not disappointed with a silver medal, it’s nice.
“We weren’t seeded to get to the final so it is a big achievement to come away with a silver medal.”
Pitchford reached the singles quarter-finals by defeating Bode Abiodun of Nigeria and Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay both 4-1, but was eliminated 4-2 (9-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9) by eventual bronze medallist Achanta in the last eight, the Indian avenging his defeat by Pitchford in the bronze medal match four years ago.
Pitchford added: “In the singles, I didn’t really play my best table tennis but in the doubles events I focused well and to come away with medals, I’m really happy with that. It’s never bad to come away with a gold, a silver and a bronze.”