Richard McAfee: India will be among top 5 table tennis countries soon

McAfee, a member of the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame, believes Indian junior players have been well served by competing in international tournaments.

Champions Table Tennis Center Director Anjana Rao and renowned coach Richard McAfee.   -  ASHWIN ACHAL

Renowned coach Richard McAfee believes that India has the potential to be among the top-five table tennis nations in the world.

“India will be among the top five countries in the world soon. India has the best coaches, athletes and infrastructure – second only to China,” McAfee, a member of the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame, stated here on Wednesday.

McAfee is in the city to conduct a week-long high-performance camp, for 16 talented players, at the Champions Table Tennis Center. The centre was established by former player Anjana Rao.

The American said that Indian junior players have been well served by competing in international tournaments, as it exposes them to different styles and techniques. Leagues like Ultimate Table Tennis help popularise the sport, he added.

McAfee, incidentally, was the competition manager for table tennis in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The Atlanta Games marked the start of China’s domination of the sport, as for the first time in its Olympic history, China made a clean sweep of all gold medals on offer.

Financial benefits

“Table tennis is China’s No.1 sport. Most of the government funding goes to table tennis. Their players are among the highest-paid athletes in China, similar to cricketers in India. Kids know that if they make it to the national team, they can be millionaires who are set for life.

"It’s also a fact that Chinese players train harder than anyone else. This is because kids join regional training centres, where all their energy is focussed on table tennis," McAfee, 69, said.