Last week, Indians accomplished an insurmountable feat of sweeping all seven gold medals at stake in the Commonwealth table tennis championship in Cuttack.
Concurrently, in a significant development in Bhuvneswar, India claimed the post of Chairman and Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Federation (CTTF) for the first time.
These Indian triumphs were not unexpected. The players capitalised on the lack of quality opposition while for the two elected representatives - Chairman Vivek Kohli and Secretary M. P. Singh - the election arithmetic was never a concern.
As it turned out, M. P. Singh was elected unopposed and Kohli won 22-6. Though the margin of Kohli’s victory was a reflection on the support he enjoyed, England’s Alan Ransome proved a reluctant outgoing-incumbent as he vacated the chair after 26 years.
“This change provides India with an opportunity to raise the profile of Commonwealth table tennis,” Kohli told Sportstar on his return to the Capital.
Kohli, 50, is actively attached to the sport since turning up for Uttar Pradesh as a junior. At present, he is the co-chairman of Stag International, a well-known equipment and apparel-maker in table tennis.
In his new role, Kohli has set his eyes on spreading the sport to all 71 Commonwealth nations.
“At present, we have only 45 affiliated members, of which around 38 are active. Once we reach out to all the nations, CTTF will have more members than the African TT Federation, Asian TT Union and the European TT Union, all of whom have 50-plus member-nations,” said
Elaborating his plans, Kohli declared, “When we hold events, we gain visibility. So far, even the Commonwealth championship is not held regularly. So, my first priority is to regularise the championship and invite the best from Singapore, England, Nigeria etc. Soon, we plan to
introduce competitions for cadet, sub-juniors, juniors, youth and veterans.
“Constant activities bring visibility to all stakeholders. Revenue from affiliation and entry fees, sponsorships, etc will give us a buffer to get started. Thereafter, in due course, we plan to hold
competitions for schools, universities, military, railways etc. from Commonwealth nations.
“We will hire professionals to run the day-to-day affairs of the CTTF. I see that the CTTF holds the potential to be the biggest sporting body in the sport after the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). We will surely borrow ideas from the ITTF to help the cause of Commonwealth nations at all levels,” concluded Kohli.
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