Ellen Falkner and Amy Monkhouse were on a high tonight as they won the pairs final against Malaysia; but the men’s pairs of Stuart Airey and Meryvn King were on a very distinct low after losing their final to South Africa despite being 13-7 up in what looked likely to be an equalising set, with their opponents scoring a perfect six on the last end.
Falkner and Monkhouse, who have been friends since they were 17, claimed gold by 5-2 in a tie-break after taking the first set 12-6 and then losing the second 5-7.
Earlier in the evening they had come through an epic semi-final, defeating Australia 8-7 in the second set after drawing the first 10-10.
“To come out here, to play together as friends and to win is something else,” said Falkner, a 31-year-old sport development officer from Cambridge.
“In the second set it seemed to be a different game as the Malaysians came back into it, but we came through. I am over the moon.”
Monkhouse, a 31-year-old teacher from Grimsby, made history by becoming the first woman to earn the right to play against male opponents in the World Indoor Singles tournament in Norfolk.
“I am over the moon too,” she said. “It’s hard to explain. Perhaps it was destiny after just pipping it in our quarter-final and then playing that huge match against Australia.
“The Malaysians went up a gear in the second set and we had to find something else.”
While the women, who have kept in touch through university days, marriages and jobs, celebrated, their male counterparts were in a state of shock after the inspirational intervention of South Africa’s skip Gerry Baker tipped the match away from them just at the point where the felt they had regained control.
“I’m still pinching myself and wondering what happened,” said Airey after losing the match 7-8, 13-13 having beaten Malaysia 9-8, 8-4 in the semi-final.
“After that last end I’m in shock. It was an absolute wonder ball by Gerry which turned things round – an absolute freak of a shot.
“We were playing well together at that point and I was confident we could get the gold. But that’s life, so we just have to take it on the chin and get on with it.”
King also described himself as being “shocked”, adding: “I’ve been so close to a medal before. I lost in the bronze play-offs in Melbourne, so if you had told me we would win the silver before the competition began I would probably have taken it.
“But I’m gutted at the way it has turned out. We’ve played 14 games in different conditions, in sticky heat and humidity, with the line changing all the time. To go through all that and lose gold is really disappointing.”