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'A big moment for Indian Table Tennis': Coach S Raman on Olympic qualification

Veteran table tennis coach S Raman is proud of the way Indian women's table tennis team performed at the World Team Championships.

A big moment for Indian Table Tennis: Coach S Raman on Olympic qualification

Ayhika Mukherjee and Sreeja Akula defeated world no. 1 Sun Yingsha and world no. 2 Wang Yidi at the World Table Tennis Team Championships in Busan on Friday. 


Arjun Mylvahanan

Updated: 6 March 2024 12:29 PM GMT

Indian men's and women's table tennis teams created history by securing qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics for the first time.

Although there were slight nerves regarding the qualifications after both teams exited in the pre-quarterfinals of the recently concluded ITTF World Table Tennis Team Championships in Busan, the Indian sports fraternity rejoiced in unison upon receiving the news of the qualification.

Veteran Table Tennis player turned coach S Raman was especially jubilant upon hearing the news.

"It's a great news. Since 2008, team events have been part of the Olympic table tennis and finally, we are here. It is a big moment for Indian table tennis and is something spectacular and exciting for our sport," he remarked in an interview with The Bridge.

In particular, he was proud of the way the women's team performed in the World Championships and was very happy seeing them navigate through a tougher draw albeit losing to Chinese Taipei in the pre-quarterfinals round, especially about Manika Batra and Sreeja Akula.

"I'm very pleased about women players who have done well, the top player being Manika and then ably supported by Sreeja. They beat three European teams and then lost out to Chinese Taipei. They had a tough draw, but they pulled off some very good wins. They played as a cohesive unit and did well to come through" he said.

Disappointed with the men's team

While Raman heaped his praises on the women's team, he had some stern words for the men's team.

"The men’s team fell to Poland in the group stage, which was a bit disappointing, to say the least. Luckily enough, they had a reasonably good draw in the round of 32 to play Kazakhstan, whom we defeated in the last World Championship as well, where I had gone as a chief coach and in the Asian Games recently," he said

"We maintained that and beat them but eventually lost to South Korea who were a formidable team. We were lucky to have a good draw after being third in the group, but it takes effort to convert that bit of luck and our players did that," Raman added.

Raman has high hopes for his ward Sathiyan Gnanasekaran at the Olympics. Sathiyan has learned his tricks under Raman and still trains under him.

"I'm the personal coach for Sathiyan. I will go to the Netherlands to ensure that he can qualify for the team singles and mixed doubles. I would try and do my best to help him and see if he can make it to the team," he said.

New Coach and Future of Indian Table Tennis

With the news of the Indian teams qualifying for the Olympics, another rumour came hinting at a possible return of Massimo Costantini as the head coach of the team.

The Italian coached the Indian team back in 2018 and is deemed to take up the role again.

"He's coming after a six-year hiatus. I don't know whether he'll be able to work in such a short period going into the Olympics after not being with the team for six years. So I have my apprehension from that." remarked Raman, whilst being very appreciative of the Indian coaches who helped the players during this phase.

Raman believes that the 2024 Paris qualification will be a motivating factor for the future generation of paddlers in the country.

"I think going forward for the next Olympics and beyond, we should look to win a medal, not just qualify," he said, also adding that "it's always easier to perform the first time, but to repeat it and sustain the performance is always a challenge".

He further remarked that the increased representation of Indian TT players at the Olympics will inspire youngsters to take up the sport.

"Eight players going for the Olympics is a great thing. We always had two men and two women, which is four players. But now we are increasing this strength to eight players. It all starts with representation and then goes on to performance and winning medals and all of that. I think this is a very good motivation for the future generation" he concluded.

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