Table Tennis players eager to break the duck

The Asian Age.  | Deepika Das

Sports, In Other sports

India coach Massimo Costantini is hopeful that his wards will break the duck in Jakarta this time.

Manika Batra and G. Sathiyan have raised hopes after their performance in the CWG.

New Delhi: Having registered their best ever show at the Commonwealth Games during this year’s edition in Gold Coast, Australia, the Indian  table tennis players carried a lot of expectations on their shoulders going into the 18th Asian Games.

India coach Massimo Costantini is hopeful that his wards will break the duck in Jakarta this time. The Indian paddlers haven’t won a medal at the Asian Games since its introduction in 1958.

The CWG success, where they swept the men’s and women’s team events, and the performance at the World Team Championships, where the Indian men’s team finished 13th — their best since 1987 — and the women 17th, was the major moral booster for the Indians .

“Winning medal at the Asiad is super challenging but I would say that now I am more confident comparing eight years back where we knew that medals were out of our reach. Now India have created so many international upset and this will count in succeed in something which has never happened at the Asiad,” Constantini told this paper on Saturday.

“One of my tasks is to keep the players humble and greedy to win. Anyway I believe pressure should not belong to us, Manika will start as seed No. 15 Sharath is 10th and Sathiyan is seeded 11 so they have nothing to lose; if we are able to perform our abilities I think we have chance to create something important,” he added.

The preparations for the CWG and the Asian Games started two years ago and their last training camp in Chengdu, China, has been crucial in their quest for the Asiad medal.

“The training was quite fruitful, with two sessions per day and almost everyday training matches included mixed doubles. We also have had the opportunity to play a friendly macth against main teams of China, that was an awesome experience, players were very excited to be hosted in the sancturary of tabletennis. The consistency and the quality of each session were very beneficial to India, something quite rare, so I believe we have to repeat this kind of exposure,” the Italian coach said.

According to Costantini, each event at the Asiad will be tough and to “play fearless” will be the mantra for the players to advance at the continental event.

“Both teams can reach the quarter finals then it all depends on the draw, in 2010 men played quarters against Korea and women against China, I hope this time we will have a better luck.

“For singles to win a medal they have to upset two players stronger than them, we have proved in the past to upset important opponents, I am confident that also this tome India players will prove their value.”
‘Team event medal possible’
Sathiyan echoed the coach’s view and said stint at China bolster their chances to finish on the podium in Jakarta.

“We had the excellent preparation. We had a training camp in China and also a session with Chinese national team. We are all set and fired up,” Sathiyan said.

China and Korea are the two toughest teams at the event but Sathiyan feels that they have decent chance against Japan, Taipei and Hong Kong in the team event.

“A medal in team event is definitely possible if we get a good draw. We always reach quarter-finals. We need to pull off one upset to get the medal. To get a medal in the singles events will be quite hard.”