Mumbai: Former World champion Peter Karlsson on Monday said that India has the potential to be a top nation in table tennis and the next 10-15 years will augur well for the sport in the country.
"I think India has a great potential as a table tennis nation. There are many players who have good energy and there are coaches who are interested to educate themselves about the game. The coming 10-15 years it will be very interesting for Indian table tennis," Karlsson told reporters at the Bombay University stadium.
Karlsson, who won four world men`s team titles with Sweden and one men`s doubles crown between 1989 and 2000, is in the city to conduct a four-day training camp organised by the Mumbai City District Table Tennis Association.
"The potential is a little bit same what I see in China. China is of course 15-20 years ahead of India. India is a big country and I am sure there will be a big number of young players in the future. These players have lot of energy. They are eager to work, eager to achieve something. This is actually a very good potential for the future," he added.
The Swede has been training men`s national champion and India no 1 Soumyajit Ghosh for the last two years and said the Siliguri player can break into the top 100 very soon, though he needs to improve his physical fitness.
"Ghosh is a very talented player. He is mentally and tactically very strong. When he came in the beginning, his physical fitness was too weak. He couldn`t play training sessions at a high level. He got tired easily.
"I told him we have to work on physical fitness. He was ready to work. It was a little bit painful for him and he has done a great job but still, he has to do more work on physical fitness to take the next step," the Swede said.
"He has reached a good level. He is beating good players. But the physical fitness needs to be improved, otherwise the next step will be very difficult. I am very positive about (his) future," Karlsson said.
"Rankings are very difficult to predict for the future. If he is doing good work, we will see a top 100 player very soon. He is very young. Seven to 10 years, then he will reach his peak," he added about the 20-year-old Bengal paddler who is ranked 170th in the world.
On the total Chinese domination of the sport, the former paddler said, "China has a big number of players, they have a big number of coaches. They have an outstanding system. They have a structure and outstanding resources. They have a complete set up.
"In Europe, table tennis is not a big sport, soccer is far bigger. We have a structure but not as good as it is in China. When it comes to the hours spent in sport and when it comes to the quality of hours in sport, we cannot compete with China. What we can compete with is in creativity."
Karlsson was one of the players to have competed well with the Chinese.
"When Europe played China, they had different playing styles. China could not handle this. They were not creative and Chinese could not analyse that and they got confused. When they got confused, they lost the self confidence and it took them many years before they could get back."
He had mixed feelings about a number of players of Chinese origin playing and representing Europe.
"It is not bad to have Chinese players in Europe. European players can learn from them surely. What can be bad is European Championships dominated by China names. This can be bad. This has been discussed a lot.
"We cannot change. We have to try and win. We cannot complain. What we can do to change the situation. It will be a long period of domination with China but there will be a day in future when it will end."
India coach Kamlesh Mehta, an eight-time national champion, said the game has become very fast-paced and aggressive as well.
"With the new rubber and equipment, the game has become very fast-paced. Obviously with that players tend to be more aggressive. But skill is not compromised," he said.