Ross Wilson put in a huge, battling performance to take the men’s class 8-10 singles bronze medal in a thrilling match at the Commonwealth Games today.
The 2018 gold medallist missed two match points in the fourth game and went 4-1 down in the decider, but managed to finally sink Nigeria’s Tajudeen Agunbiade.
The first two games were shared, Wilson taking the first 11-9 and his opponent the second by the same score. The Englishman then moved back in front with an 11-4 margin in the third.
The drama was destined to be laid on thick in the fourth. Wilson held an 8-5 lead and could almost touch the medal.
His opponent hit back with a succession of points – 8-7 with the aid of a side edge, 8-8 with a powerful forehand which Wilson could not return, 9-8 with some obdurate defence which led to Wilson not getting enough on a forehand.
When Wilson netted, his opponent had two game points, but Wilson saved them both with a thick edge off the back of the table and then a powerful forehand. But he then netted to give his opponent another chance to take the game.
The best rally of the match then saw both men slugging it out and getting a succession of tough returns back on the table before the Nigerian netted.
A superbly angled inside-out forehand gave Wilson a match point – missed when a forehand-to-forehand rally ended with Wilson netting.
Another Nigerian game point saved and then Wilson had another match point, missed when he sent his receive long.
Another game point saved at 14-15, then Wilson went long via the top of the net and, after a Nigerian timeout, Agunbiade finally his opportunity as Wilson again flicked the net and went off.
When Wilson found himself 4-1 down in the decider, he knew he would have to find the mental strength which made him world and Commonwealth champion.
He whittled it back to 4-5 at the change of ends and took the initiative, pulling out to a 9-5 lead with some meaty forehands and cute angles.
A powerful forehand across court brought up four match points, and he only needed one as Agunbiade went long.
Afterwards, Wilson said: “After the fourth set, 17-15 I think it was, and then it went 4-1 to him in the fifth, I was just thinking ‘here we go again, it’s getting away from me’. But I just stuck in there and fortunately it all came together in the end and I’m really proud of myself for believing in myself until the end.
“The feeling of coming away with nothing – you try not to be too outcome-focused but you do think about it a lot. I was just trying to focus on my processes today and I was just trying to dig in there until the end and keeping my head and fighting for every point.
“Admittedly, it’s not been my best performances this Games but I’ve kept in there until the end and I’m really proud of myself for that.”
On a large supporting contingent among the crowd at a home Games, Wilson added: “It’s an amazing feeling. I think they’re used to bronze now, I get bronze quite a lot, which is a bit annoying! But I think they’re all over the moon.
“A home crowd, my family, my friends, my girlfriend, my little nephew who’s just been born, they’ve all come to watch and it makes me so proud to be able to go out there and perform in front of them.
The gold medal was won by Josh Stacey of Wales, who defeated Australia’s Ma Lin in a nother match which went to a decider and which featured an extraordinary first game which Stacey won 25-23.
He then hit back from 2-0 down to win the gold with a scoreline of 3-2 (25-23, 5-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5).
Men’s Class 8-10 Singles
Bronze medal match
Ross Wilson bt Tajudeen Agunbiade (NGR) 3-2 (11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 15-17, 11-6)