Promising paddlers get a chance to qualify for London Olympics

New Delhi: The Indian table tennis team for the London Olympics qualifiers will have a blend of youth and experience. Sharath Kamal and Poulomi Ghatak remain the best bet in men and women`s category at the tournament to be held at Hong Kong from April 19 to 22.

Kamal and Ghatak will be joined by Anthony Amalraj, who ended Sharath`s five-year reign by winning his maiden national in January, and 18-year-old Soumyajit Ghosh, who pipped veteran Subhajit Saha for the third and last spot. Ghosh is better known for his mixed doubles bronze in the 2010 World Junior Championships in Bratislava.

Ghatak, who won her seventh national title in Lucknow, will be looking for her second Olympic appearance after Sydney 2000. Shamini Kumaresan, part of the silver winning women`s team in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and the young Ankita Das are the other two members. Ankita reached the quarterfinals of the World Juniors in Bahrain in November.

"The senior players selected themselves in the team while coach Leszek Kucharski organised trials for the third player in each category. Ghosh defeated Saha while Ankita beat Mouma Das in the trials in Patiala," TTFI secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary told IANS adding that the national team is training in Austria ahead of the World Team Championships in Dortmund, beginning March 25.

Seventy-two players make the final draw in the men and women`s sections. Top 28 in each category get direct entry and 40 make it from the continental qualifications. Two will come through the final world qualification event, one gets an invitational berth and a single spot has been reserved for the hosts. A maximum of two players can represent their country in singles.

Sharath and Neha Aggarwal qualified for the Beijing Games in 2008.