Paddlers to visit China to fine-tune game for CWG, Asian Games

New Delhi: As part of their preparation for
Commonwealth Games, the Indian Table Tennis team led by
singles gold medallist Sharath Kamal will leave Monday night for
China to acquire more in-depth knowledge about the game and
identify their strength and weakness.

During their three-week training-cum-competition trip,
the 21-member contingent will first participate in the
`Harmony 2010 China Open`, starting Aug 18 at Suzhou, and then
spend a month at Zhengding province to train ahead of the
October 3-14 Delhi Games.

The Indian squad comprises of nine men, eight women, two
coaches, one supporting staff and one umpire.

Sharath, currently world ranked 39th and first Indian to
break into Top-50, said the exposure trip will hold the
players in good stead in this year`s Delhi Games and Asian

"This trip is very important keeping Commonwealth Games
in mind. The trip is planned in such a way that we peak at the
right time and defend our respective titles," said the Arjuna

"Training in China is always a good experience. It helps
the players a lot. In China we get the opportunity to play
against a number of quality players, which improve our skills.
We are training hard and even second string Chinese side is
equally good. So we will definitely gain from the camp.”

"We have trained in China on three occasions in the last
few months and that will certainly help us in the Commonwealth
Games. The trips will also help us in the Asian Games to be
held in Guangzhou, China in November," said Sharath, who was
today felicitated by TTFI president Ajay Singh Chautala here
for his impressive show in international tournaments.

The Olympian paddler became the first Indian to win an
ITTF Pro Tour singles title when he clinched the Egypt Open in
Cairo last month. He had first won the US Open title at
Michigan same month.

Sharath said his performance has improved a lot after
undergoing trainings in China and Europe.

"My performance has improved a lot in the recent past.
For example, the training seasons in China and Europe have
improved my speed and that have played important role in my
recent success. I played in Europe and worked hard to overcome
my short comings," said the lanky paddler.

About the preparation for the Commonwealth Games,
Sharath said that Singapore paddlers would present a tough
challenge to the hosts in Individual and Team events.

"Indians need to be on top of their game to perform well
in front of home crowd. We know great expectations are being
pinned on us because we are the host and also the defending
champions of team individual gold in Table Tennis," he said.

"Though Chinese would not be here but Chinese origin
players would be here from various other teams. For example
Singapore has few players who are of Chinese origin and pose
tough challenge for us in Team and Individual events.”

"Other teams like Nigeria and England are also good. We
need to work hard to emerge at the top," said Sharath.

His views were supported by Team India`s foreign coach
Massimo Constantine, who said that Singapore players are much
faster in their game and have the capacity to defeat any side.

"Singapore have players of Chinese origin and are capable
of demolishing any side. The number one Singapore woman player
is from Chinese province. They play really fast and never give
their opponent chance to recover.

"Only way to beat them is play as fast as them and keep
yourself calm and composed. In singles and men`s doubles, we
are capable of beating any side including Singapore paddlers.
Our first aim would be to perform well at China Open so as to
improve world rankings and get some valuable rating points.
That ensure us a better seeding.

"Right now we are number two in the Commonwealth team
rankings behind Singapore whom we beat in the final at
Melbourne four years ago to win the gold medal. If we perform
well in China, our rankings will improve and that will ensure
a better draw and seedings at the Commonwealth Games,"
Constantine said.

Meanwhile, TTFI also announced a cash reward for Indian
paddlers who win medals at the Commonwealth Games.

"In singles event, federation will give Rs three lakh for
gold medal, two lakh for silver and one lakh for bronze. In
the Team event, Rs one lakh for gold, 75,000 for silver and
50,000 for bronze," said TTFI General Secretary Dhanraj


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