Paddlers will look to make London a memorable event
New Delhi: With big names of Indian Table Tennis missing from London Olympics, onus will be on the teenaged duo of Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das to deliver but it might be a case of asking too much, too early from them in their debut appearance at the mega-event.
Both Soumyajit and Ankita have the ability to spring a few surprises, but it would not be fair to expect something big from the two 19-year-olds at the intimidating stage.
However, both teenagers are looking to utilise this opportunity in the best possible way and put up a performance which would be remembered for years to come.
"This is very important for me, my first ever Games. I want to put out a performance that no other paddler has done before. I want people to remember me for my performance at the Olympics," said Ankita.
The duo does not stand a realistic chance, but they cannot be ruled out either as they have the ability to create upsets.
Soumyajit in particular can make himself count by creating some flutter in the first stage of the tournament if a little bit of luck goes in his favour.
"Honestly speaking, it`s very difficult (to win a medal) but it also depends on the draw. It will eventually boil down to how far I can go (in the event)," Soumyajit told PTI.
"I never expected that I would qualify for the Olympics, it was a distant dream...I was expecting that may be in 2016 I stand a chance, but since I have made it I don`t want to let go this chance without putting up a fight," said the paddler, who beat compatriot Anthony Amalraj in the Asian Qualifiers to qualify for the Games through a South Asian quota.
Both the paddlers may n fact thrive given that there is no pressure on them.
"I was talking to Soumyajit and he said he just wanted to be in the Olympics. Soumyajit said no matter who the opponent might be he will go and have a blast. And if he plays his natural game I believe he has the talent to create a few upsets," national coach Bhawani Mukherjee said.
A lot will also depend on the kind of the draw they get. Since both the paddlers are sceptical about their counterparts from Asia, it will be quite interesting to see how they cope with the situation.
However, a training stint in China ahead of the Olympics has come as a morale-booster for them and both feel confident heading into the Olympics.
"I have been training in Sweden, so I have the knowledge about how the Europeans play...They are beatable, but the Chinese, the Koreans, they go out on attack from the word go which at times makes things a bit difficult," Soumyajit said.
India`s Polish coach Leszek Kucharski is also not giving the duo much of a chance, though, he is hopeful that his wards will put up a decent show in London.
The former Olympian believes that it is a bit "too early for the two kids".
"I am expecting that they will do their best. They do not belong to favourites, but I expect their performance to be on the higher side," said Kucharski, who represented Poland in 1988 and 1992 Olympics.
Soumyajit has been training in Sweden under the watchful eyes of former World Champion Peter Karlsson and that experience may well work in his favour.
Both the paddlers, however, will have to work upon their fitness ahead of the Olympics. While Ankita needs to shed a few kilos, Soumyajit also needs to get his body in order and be prepared to play more than a match in one day.
"Mentally they are very tough, if they sense an opportunity they will fight to get the best out of that," points Kucharski.