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Table Tennis

New India number 1 Harmeet Desai calls Asian Games selection unfair

Harmeet Desai, who has overtaken both Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan in men's table tennis rankings this week, has put TTFI in a tight spot.

New India number 1 Harmeet Desai calls Asian Games selection unfair

Harmeet Desai (UTT)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 18 July 2023 1:50 PM GMT

India's new top ranked men's singles table tennis player Harmeet Desai has come out against his 'unfair treatment' in being left out of the singles competition for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou.

The 29-year-old Harmeet is in the Asian Games squad but will only feature in team and mixed doubles events. Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan have been picked ahead of Desai for the singles competition as only two entries are allowed.

"It is going to be my third Asian Games and as per the selection criteria, which includes both domestic and international performances, I should be playing singles as well and not just team and doubles," Harmeet told PTI.

Harmeet became the highest-ranked Indian in men's singles in the latest ITTF rankings released on Tuesday. His consistent performances over the last two months, which included runs till the semifinals of the WTT Contender in Lagos and pre-quarterfinals in WTT Contender in Tunis, have propelled him to world number 64.

Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan, on the other hand, have failed to impress over the last year and are currently ranked 69th and 88th. Even in the ongoing Ultimate Table Tennis League, it was Harmeet who beat Sathiyan 3-0 when they met last week.

However, when the Asian Games selections had been made, Harmeet (71) had been behind Sharath (54) and Sathiyan (60) in the ITTF rankings.

As per the selection criteria of Table Tennis Federation of India, 50 percent weightage is given to domestic performances, 40 percent to international and 10 percent is left for selectors' discretion.

Harmeet's home state association of Gujarat has also written to TTFI expressing its disappointment over the player's non-selection for the singles event.

"The current non-selection of Harmeet Desai coupled with his omission in CWG 2022 men's Singles event disregarding his ranking and performance has jolted him and has come as a shocker for us at the State Association," Pramod Chaudhary, president of Gujarat State Table Tennis Association, said in the letter dated July 9.

Harmeet, Sharath and Sathiyan were part of the Asian Games squad that made history at the previous edition in Jakarta where India ended a 60- year wait for a medal by securing a bronze in the team event.

(With PTI inputs)

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