Table tennis Olympic qualifiers | Indian mens team primed to create history

 thehindu.com  01/21/2020 13:50:38 

The Indian mens table tennis squad is well placed to create history at the Olympic qualifiers beginning in Gondomar on January 22, the fifth seeds needing just a quarterfinal finish to ensure its maiden qualification as a team at the Summer Games.

Unless the team comprising G Sathiyan (world rank 30), veteran Sharath Kamal (WR 33) and Harmeet Desai (WR 86) play badly, India should not have a lot of difficulty in making the Olympic cut.

In the past games, Indian players have played only in individual events but now three of them being in top-100 shows the rapid strides India has taken at the highest level.

The men take on Luxembourg in their opening match and women, seeded 17th, face a formidable Sweden.

Ahead of the tournament, the squad had a camp in Chennai before it travelled to Germany to train with its national team.

Despite the lack of a head coach since the 2019 Asian Games, Indian players have been producing impressive on the professional circuit.

The mens team had ended a 60-year wait by winning a historic bronze at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

The contingents campaign got even better Sharath and Manika Batra, who won four medals at the preceding Commonwealth Games, bagged a surprise bronze in the mixed doubles.

Nine qualifying spots are on offer at the ITTF organised event. A top-eight finish guarantees Olympic qualification.

Korea is the top seed in mens category, followed by Chinese Taipei, Sweden, France and India.

Hong Kong is the top seed in womens event, followed by Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Korea and Romania.

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