New Delhi: Olympic-bound paddlers, Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das, will spearhead Indian challenge in men`s and women`s competitions respectively at the Swedish Open to be held at Helsingborg between June 7 and 12 and the Brazil Open at Santos from June 13 to 17.
Both Soumyajit and Ankita, along with 13 others, will be accompanied by foreign coach Leszek Kucharski and national coach Bhawani Mukherji.
The two back-to-back championships, the first one part of Euro-African circuit and the second an ITTF world tour meet, have come as godsend opportunities for all the players, especially the two, who have qualified for the London Games next month.
These are the only two meets where both Soumyajit and Ankita will be able to compete and assess themselves before the Games. But for the rest, the two championships will help them improve their world rankings, if not at least gain vital points to keep their rankings in check.
This is what was weighing heavily in their minds when the players left for Helsingborg this morning.
Soumyajit was confident of a good showing at the two events and admitted that the championships have come at the right time.
"We certainly needed these competitions. This will help me and the coach to assess our discrepancies," he said.
Ankita seemed a bit anxious about the London Games, but said she was not thinking about the Olympics at the moment.
"Since this is our first Olympics there are bound to be some nervousness. Our coaches have been egging us on to take it as another championship. Yes, the stage is very huge and we will definitely give our best shot," she said.
However, the coaches accompanying the team urged on the two not to lose focus on the Olympics.
"I have told them to play their normal games, while keeping the focus at the same time. The championships will give us an idea about how the two are measuring up when pitted against top Europeans. It will also help us iron out any discrepancy before the Games," said Bhawani Mukherjee.
Dhanraj Choudhary, TTFI secretary-general, said the two events were important for the Olympic-bound paddlers as that would give them adequate exposure before the Games.
"We are thankful to the Sports Ministry for clearing the trips. Apart from Ghosh and Ankita, the other players too are going to cash in on the twin championships for they can earn ranking points," he said.
All the team members will be returning on June 20 and the TTFI is planning a special camp for both Soumyajit and Ankita either at Patiala or in China, added Choudhary.
Team (Men): Soumyajit Ghosh, Anthony Amalraj, Achanta Sharath Kamal, Subhajit Saha, Sanil Shetty, Soumyadeep Roy, Harmeet Desai.
Women: Ankita Das, Poulomi Ghatak, Mouma Das, Moushmi Paul, Divya Dshpandey, K Shamini, Manika Batra and Poja V Sahasrabudhe.