India's TT players must improve fitness: Kamlesh Mehta
Currently, 27 Indian players are ranked in the world top 100 across various categories and Mehta felt things are moving in the right direction
A slew of international medals in table tennis in the recent past has led to many believing that an Olympic medal in the sport is just around the corner. However, eight-time national champion Kamlesh Mehta believes that a realistic target for an Olympic medal is the 2028 edition of the Games. Mehta explained his reasons.
"We have to still develop infrastructure. Then, it's very important to work on improving players' fitness levels. We also need more and more former players to come on board as coaches. We are currently seeing some ex-players coming back to the game and that's a good sign. All these things put together can help achieve the goal [Olympic medal]," Mehta told mid-day on the sidelines of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) players draft at the National Sports Club of India in Worli yesterday. Currently, 27 Indian players are ranked in the world top 100 across various categories and Mehta felt things are moving in the right direction:
"I always tell my players that whenever they go into a championship, they must go in with the intention of winning. Of course anything can happen in sport but realistically speaking, at UTT, we had set our target of a 2028 Olympic medal when we began the franchise-based competition in 2014. Of course, the medal can happen earlier too. We got two medals at the Jakarta Asian Games [bronze for Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra in mixed doubles and a bronze for men's team comprising G Sathiyan, Kamal and A Amalraj] which is almost like an Olympic medal since most of the top TT players are from Asia. So, it's tough to predict an Olympic medal, but our players are working hard and the results are showing," added Mehta.
Meanwhile, India's Kamal and Batra were the first picks for Chennai Lions and RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata respectively at the draft while India's highest-ranked player Sathiyan (World No. 24) was retained by Dabang Delhi. The six-team UTT will be held in Delhi from July 25 to August 11.
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