updated 24 Dec 2010, 07:10
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Fri, Oct 15, 2010
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Now a mum, Li Jiawei still a winner
by Chia Han Keong

SHE returned to competitive table tennis just half a year ago, after taking time off following the 2008 Beijing Olympics to get married and give birth to a son.

Still, Li Jiawei's competitive instincts were still intact yesterday, as she teamed up with Sun Beibei to clinch the women's doubles Commonwealth Games gold in New Delhi.

They came from two sets down to defeat compatriots Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-6.

It was Li's 10th medal of the Games, won over three editions - four in Manchester 2002, four in Melbourne 2006, and two in Delhi. She had earlier won her first Delhi gold with the women's team.

She said after the win: "I actually have never kept track of the number of medals I have won at the Commonwealth Games. I focus only on doing well at each competition I enter.

"I am satisfied with my form, considering that I have been back in competition for only half a year following the birth of my son, who turned a year old yesterday."

Singapore clinched its final gold medal in men's singles table- tennis competition when Yang Zi caused a minor upset by beating his higher-ranked compatriot Gao Ning 11-3, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6.

In a third final yesterday, however, shuttlers Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei failed in their quest for gold, succumbing to India's Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Machimanda 16-21, 19-21.

This takes the Republic's record medal haul at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games to 11 golds, 11 silvers and nine bronzes on the final day of competition, placing it eighth in the medal-tally table.

For Singapore, it is a significant improvement from its Melbourne showing four years ago, when they managed five golds, six silvers and seven bronzes.

Australia top the table with 74 golds, 55 silvers and 48 bronzes, while India managed to pip England to second spot by a single gold, courtesy of badminton star Saina Nehwal's hard-fought 19-21, 23-21, 21-13 victory over Malaysia's Wong Mew Chew in the women's singles final.

It was a sweet finish for the hosts, who suffered plenty of criticism for bad preparations leading up to the Games before managing to turn it around in the 11th hour.

Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell said that despite the late completion of the Athletes' Village and venues, ticketing and transport problems, the Games were a success because the athletes enjoyed them.

The village was in a terrible state just a week before the Games started on Oct 3, with several teams forced into hotels or delaying their arrivals because of filthy and unfinished conditions there.

When Fennell was asked who was most responsible for getting the last-minute problems fixed, he said it was teamwork.

"You can't ascribe success to any one individual," he said. "When it was recognised that there were a few things that were not going right, the Delhi government at various levels and the national government put in a lot of resources to help correct the situation.

"People have seen an extremely positive image of the Games right across the world. People have had to deal with issues, there's no denying that, but the end result has been good."


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