Top paddler Sharath Kamal believes India has a decent chance of winning a medal, for the first time, at the Asian Table Tennis Championship in Doha starting September 28.
Table tennis powerhouse China has pulled out of the tournament as it clashes with its National Games. The Chinese paddlers will have no time to quarantine in Doha as their domestic event will end on September 26.
Speaking on the state-run website of the People’s Republic of China, Qin Zhijian, Secretary of Chinese Table Tennis Association, highlighted why it is not possible to send the Chinese paddlers to Doha. “The table tennis competition of the National Games is between September 17 and 26, and the Asian Championships will start on September 28 [to October 5). There is limited intermission between the two tournaments. Taking international flights into consideration, it’s quite difficult for the team to arrive in Qatar on schedule to participate,” he said.
Kamal has especially backed the Indian men’s team to end up with a medal. “Now with China not competing, we have moved up a position from fifth seed to fourth. We have never played the semifinals before. Also, both the semifinalists get a bronze. Moreover, Singapore is not the same strong team it was before,” Sharath told Sportstar on Friday.
The 39-year-old, a nine-time National champion, said he had started training for the Asian championships. “We are expecting a clarity on the National camp for the Asians in a few days,” he said. Sharath, however, confirmed that he would not be taking part in the WTT Star Contender tournament in Doha scheduled from September 22 to 25. “I am not ready yet. I want to take my time,” he said.