New Delhi: India's finest ever table tennis player Sharath Kamal on Tuesday lashed out at the parent body TTFI's decision to overlook him for India's Asian Cup campaign after he chose to skip the National Championship for club commitments in Germany.
Sharath was dropped for the March 13-15 event in Jaipur as he did not play any domestic events last season, thereby failing to secure enough points for Asian Cup selection.
"I do understand their (of the federation TTFI) rules but I think they could have considered my situation and thought about what I have done for the country in the last decade or so," a dejected Sharat told PTI from Germany, where he plays for top Bundesliga club Borussia Dusseldorf.
World No 50 and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist further explained what made him miss the nationals in Puducherry last week.
"The situation was like this: One of the players was injured and they could not find a substitute for the ongoing Champions League. So I had to play here as this is of higher priority for me than the nationals. I am the only Indian to have played in the competition. But sadly the TTFI does not feel any gratitude for my service for so many years," said the 32-year-old.
Current national champions Soumyajit Ghosh and Mouma Das have been picked to represent India in the competition where 16 players will take part in the men's and women's singles respectively. Sharath can still take part in the premier Asian event if the Asian Table Tennis Union (ATTU) invites him considering his high world ranking.
Former player and selector Kamlesh Mehta said it was tough to drop a player like Sharath but they just followed the rules.
"It was a tough decision we had to take but there is a criteria and we have to go by that. He did not feature in any of the domestic events this year and missing nationals cost him 180 points on offer for the title, compared to the 90 you get in other ranking events," Mehta reasoned.
Sharath, however, had turned up for his employers Indian Oil in the Inter-Unit meet that preceded the nationals before flying back to Germany.
The six-time national champion said he would have loved
to regain the crown in Puducherry before adding that TTFI should have kept in mind the negative impact its decision can have on his rankings.
"I need to play as much as I can for my rankings ahead of the Olympics and its qualification. Because in the end, they are taking action against a player at the cost of the country.
"And also its not like I am playing some exhibition tournament or some small tournament of lesser importance to skip the nationals. The magnitude of the whole situation was not taken into consideration and brushed aside saying that it's just some personal commitment I had with the club.
"When we play for clubs like mine, we improve a lot and that helps us win medals for the country."
On missing the nationals, Sharath added: "I wanted to play the nationals because it was in Puducherry. A lot of my friends wanted to watch me play...And I have lost the last three nationals, so I wanted to win it back," he lamented.