Gold Coast: The year was 2006 and the venue Melbourne, some 1000 miles away from the Gold Coast in Australia. A young Indian paddler called Achanta Sharath Kamal had just claimed gold, not only at the men's singles event, but also by helping the men's team top the podium.
The year now is 2018 and this time we're at the Gold Coast. But the same man stands at the summit again. On Monday, he helped India win its first gold at a table tennis men's team event in 12 years, as they defeated Nigeria 3-0 in the final.
"My hairline is now receding and I'm also a father of two," explains how much has changed for the decorated table tennis player.
He downed Bode Abiodun 4-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 in the first round to set the stage for his colleagues to finish the job and clinch India's ninth gold at the ongoing Gold Coast CWG.
The foundation was laid and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who bounced back from a first set setback to defeat Segun Toriola 10-12, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4. It was followed by Harmeet Desai and Sathiyan's doubles win over 11-8, 11-5, 11-3 Abiodin and Olajide Omotayo.
From the looks of it, the paddlers cruised to win the game, but Kamal did shed a few drops of cold sweat in the semi-final against Singapore when the team was losing 0-1 after Desai's loss in the first match. The veteran stepped up to comfortably draw level as he beat Ethan Poh 11-5, 11-5 and 11-4.
After that win, India took a 2-1 lead with the duo of Gnanasekaran and Desai but Singapore made it 2-2 again.
After this, Kamal stepped up to move an inch closer to see a gold in team's event after a 12-year wait.
"I lost a few points in the beginning and that was when I felt some the pressure. I took a few deep breaths and the rest is history," can only be the words of man who cruised through with straight sets after beating Xue Jie Pang 11-5, 12-10, 12-10.
"The more challenging time was in the semis. We celebrated more than the finals after that game," he says amidst the celebrations after the match.
After a historic feat for their women counterparts on Sunday, Kamal is confident that the team could clinch another gold in the doubles event. "We are expecting a gold since our team is very strong," he says.
"This gold medal proves that table tennis is growing in India and we want to take it further." The table tennis contingent is scheduled to return on April 15 and they will later be in action for the second season of Ultimate Table Tennis which starts from June 14.