SPORTS


Iran sign off with double gold in Baku

Baku, May 22, AZERTAC

Iran completed the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games with two gold medals in the table tennis team finals at the Sarhadchi Arena on Monday.

The men's outfit of Alamian brothers Noshad and Nima, as well as Afshin Noroozi, got the better of Turkey 3-1, after the women's trio had claimed a gripping 3-1 victory over hosts Azerbaijan in the first final.

The favourites struck first blood in the men's final in Baku, as Nima Alamian bounced back from dropping the first game to brush aside Ibrahim Gunduz with little trouble.

The singles silver medallist appeared to be caught unawares early on, but reeled off the last three games for the loss of only 13 points in total.

The second match was a far tighter affair, with the first two games between singles champion Noshad Alamian and Ahmet Li going to sudden death but being shared.

Noshad, 25, found life harder against fellow left-hander Li than he had in any other match at the Games, and he fell behind as his Chinese-born opponent edged the third 13-11.

Li, who is ranked 13 places lower than his opponent as the world number 89, completed a 3-1 win to level the tie and gain revenge for his 4-1 defeat to Alamian in the singles last four.

The Turkish pair of Gencay Menge and Gunduz threatened an upset in the doubles, but Noroozi and Nima did enough to scrape through a fifth-game decider.

That left Iran on the brink of victory, only for the pressure to appear to get to Noshad as he produced a poor first game to put himself in trouble against Menge.

The world number 76 rediscovered his excellent form from earlier in the week though and stormed to his second gold medal of the Games, and his country's 39th in all as they finished third in the medals table, with three games on the spin.

Earlier on Monday, Iran had also taken the women's crown by seeing off Azerbaijan.

Singles runner-up Ning Zhing got the hosts off to a perfect start with a straight-games victory over Neda Shahsavari, before singles bronze medallist Wang Miao struggled early on against Mahshid Ashtari to fall behind.

She fought back though in sudden death to take the second game and, roared on by the crowd, moved one ahead.

Ashtari did admirably well to stay in the rubber as she forced a decider, before extending her run of consecutive points to eight to take control.

Wang missed a succession of shots in the fifth to hand it to Ashtari 11-7 as the final went into the doubles all square.

The doubles clash was always likely to prove crucial and the Iranian pair of Shahsavari and Maryam Samet hit back to level after Chen Xingtai and Wang Miao had taken the opener.

Iran powered through the following two games in impressive fashion to move one singles win away from the gold medal.

And their top player Shahsavari thrashed Azeri number three Chen in straight games to secure an impressive victory.

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