After a dominant display at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast in April, the Indian Table Tennis team embark on their toughest quest this year as they gear up for the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.
The team look to be in good form as they head into the event, particularly Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who have attained their highest ever World ranking of 57 and 39 respectively, along with Sharath Kamal, who is now world rank 33.
On this achievement, and after his stellar performance for Dabang Smashers in the CEAT UTT Season 2 leading them to a championship, Sathiyan is confident of a good showing in the World’s second largest multi-sport competition. “The expectations are running high after a great performance at the Commonwealth Games. The competition is very tough, and it is only going to get tougher, but we are going to put on a great show and win more medals for India”, quipped the stylish paddler.
Coach Massimo Costantini is optimistic about his team’s chances, acknowledging that the world has stopped and taken notice of India’s rise in the Table Tennis sphere. “Asian games are super tough, we play in a continent that is a super strong continent, with China, Japan and Korea. But India is a team that is getting a lot of respect from these countries, as they know what India is capable of”, said the Italian gaffer.
He is also hugely confident of the team chemistry, saying, “I count on the team spirit, the same that we had in the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships, so I am confident for a great Asian Games. We have a chance for a medal.”
A veteran of three Asian games and heading to his fourth, Sharath Kamal is raring to go in the competition. “We have improved a lot since the last edition. We are a much stronger team now, and we are well prepared to play against higher ranked players and put in a great show,” he said.
The Asian Games begin on the 18th of August, this being the first time the games are being hosted by two cities, Jakarta and Palembang.