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Toby Penty admitted he was proud but disappointed after his spirited display for England’s mixed team was not enough to salvage Commonwealth Games bronze in Birmingham.
Ben Lane and Lauren Smith lost a tight doubles contest to Singapore’s mixed doubles pair before Penty attempted to level the contest in his singles match-up with Kean Yew Loh.
But despite the best efforts of the 29-year-old from Walton-on-Thames against the reigning men's singles world champion, he went down 2-1 (25-23, 11-21, 23-25) in an epic at the NEC.
Penty was not part of the England mixed team that won bronze four years ago and said the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow after Singapore sealed victory by taking the women’s singles rubber.
“It’s hard to put it into words right now,” he said. “I could feel cramp coming into my right leg and I was just like ‘keep fighting’. It was just a great match to be part of and I’m super proud.
“It was just disappointing I couldn’t see it home at the end. I played him [Kean Yew Loh] two days ago and lost 21-12 and 21-12. That was the first time I’ve played him.
“So, it gave me an idea of what to expect. I started well, which I haven’t done that often, and that made a big change – I think he got a little bit nervous.
“It was like we were one person (with crowd); it was fantastic. I’ve spoken a lot about in the past, when I’ve played in front of crowds like that, and it’s been tough for me. But today was like something out of another world. I’m grateful to play in front of a crowd like that.
“It’s not very often we get to play in a one-court arena, and it changes the feeling and the emotion compared to a five-court layout. A Commonwealth Games at home is very special.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Surrey-born Lane, who is now based in Milton Keynes, was thrown in at the deep end in the mixed doubles with Smith after his men’s doubles partner Sean Vendy was taken ill.
Despite having never played together in a competitive match before, the duo pushed Hee Yong Kai Terry and Wei Han Tan Jessica all the way before going down 21-17 25-23.
Lane said: “A great team performance today. If a couple of points in each game had gone the other way, we could easily have been 2-0 up. I’m always proud to represent my country.
“It's the first time (with Smith) that we've ever been on the same side as each other. It was just a few key points. I think I put two out the back so we’re just disappointed.
“Credit to them (Singapore), they stuck in there and they played well. It's quite easy playing with a good mixed doubles player, I've just got to run around behind her.
"I've not played mixed properly for about three years so there were a few wrong choices. But, yes, we got chucked in yesterday so we both did well considering.
“The support was amazing. It's been amazing every match we’ve played. We gave it our best today, but it just wasn’t enough to get us over the line in the end.”
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