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Birthday boy gets gold for England

30 July 2002

Alex Perry celebrates his birthday by winning the first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal for England in the men’s team event.


Matthew Syed

The 27-year-old won the third and deciding set in the men's team event against Nigerian Nosiru Kazeem forcing the current Commonwealth champions to settle for the silver medal.

Soren Ahlen, the English coach, said of Perry’s winning set: “There’s a big difference between playing well and winning. The big thing was for Alex to win the first set. He made the Nigerian (Nosiru Kazeem) nervous in the second, then almost lost it, but came back and played brilliantly in the third and fourth.”

And on winning the gold medal, an ecstatic Perry said: “Brilliant. I am lost for words. I was fluctuating in the last game, but was trying not to think what the last two points would mean. It was a crucial test, but I held it together and am chuffed to bits. I only found out at about 13:00 that I was picked for the team as Soren Ahlen was keen to keep it quiet.”

Matthew Syed began the English assault, stealing away to an 11-1 lead in the first game against Monday Merotohun who struggled to read the spin Syed put on the ball. Winning a number of successive rallies, Syed won the game 3-1.

Gareth Herbert then stunned the African champion Segun Toriola with his world-class service in the second set. Not to be outdone, Toriola later found his rhythm, but it wasn’t enough to finish off, losing 1-3.

It was then up to Perry to make it a clean-sweep. Perry who had only played a few games on the road to the finals rose to the occasion and beat Kazeem 3-1 in a focussed and precise match.

Nigerian coach Babatunde Obisanya was yellow-carded, but there was little he could do, as the English team cruised to victory.

The final results of the men’s team event are gold to England, silver to Nigeria and bronze each to Singapore and India.

Info News Service/eg/sdb

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