India’s Aditya Mehta comfortably beat Liang Wenbo of China 3-0 in the men’s snooker gold medal winning match at the World Games in Colombia.
The 27 year-old put the disappointment of losing in the semi-finals of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games behind him by storming to the victory in Cali.
Mehta had earlier enjoyed an easy success over Luis Lemus of Guatamala before tougher triumphs over England’s Joe Perry and Dechawat Poomjaeng, the popular Thai who endeared many at the Crucible in April.
Liang had seen off Noppon Saengkham in the opening round before whitewashing the defending champion Nigel Bond in the quarter-finals.
The former Shanghai Masters runner-up then took out Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo 3-1 in the last four but had little to offer in a one-sided final and had to settle for the silver medal.
Poomjaeng took the bronze after narrowly seeing off Figueiredo, on his home continent where snooker isn’t regarded as a very popular sport, 3-2.
Although there were not many of the top pros involved in the event, it still marks a good achievement for Mehta, who has enjoyed a considerable rise in form in the last couple of years.
With the inaugural Indian Open on the horizon, Mehta will be hoping that he can carry his form through to his home tournament and build on the confidence garnered in South America.
Indeed, the World Games is important to snooker as a sport in general.
Comprising sports that are not participating events in the regular Olympics, it is a unique opportunity for a game like snooker to showcase its appeal globally.
Other sports have come through the World Games route, gained respect and popularity, and eventually earned Olympic status.
It will take a long time for snooker to reach those dizzying heights but it’s continuing presence in these events on a worldwide stage can do little harm and offer significant help in spreading the message of the baize.
Incidentally, Ireland’s Brendan O’Donoghue was competing but, despite opening up a two frame advantage over seasoned pro Perry, could only watch as he lost three on the bounce to succumb to a 3-2 defeat.
It is a shame because O’Donoghue had the potential to create a few upsets in the event but his experience I’m sure was enjoyable – especially that of being involved in an Opening Ceremony involving tens of thousands of competitors and fans.