National TT coach credits Sharath for India's performance at the Worlds

The Indian men’s team, said Costantini, did well mainly due to Sharath Kamal’s experience and class.

The Indian men’s team, said Costantini, did well, mainly due to Sharath Kamal’s experience and class.   -  Manob Chowdhary

In his second stint as India’s table tennis head-coach, Massimo Costantini has seen his stock rise higher.

The 60-year-old Italian played a major part in India bagging a record haul of eight medals in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, and the Indian men’s team finishing 13th-its best ever in more than three decades-in the Championship Division of the World table tennis championships in Halmstad (Sweden) recently.

However, the sore point was the women’s team finishing a poor 17th, winning just one Tie in the Championship Division.

On Asian Games:

"The 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta is the toughest competition for us as the creme-de-la-creme is there. For China and Japan, the Games are very important. Our performance depends on the draw and so many other things.

"We are more hopeful this time because in the last Asian championship quarterfinals in Wuxi (China), we ran Japan close. I have the feeling that we can cause an upset. The team spirit now is remarkable. And moreover, we are playing Platinum Pro Tour events in Korea and Australia before the Asian Games, which will be good preparation. We have proven to be world class players. I hope we do well in the Games."

"I am very happy with our results. There are no disappointments or any regrets," said Costantini to Sportstar on Thursday.

The former head-coach of USA and UAE said the recovery time was very less for Indians.

There was hardly a fortnight between CWG and the Worlds, and the time was very short, felt the Italian, who had coached the Indian teams to five medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Discussing the poor run of the women’s team - especially after a high at CWG - Costantini said it was natural to have a drop in performance. "It is very very normal," he said. "They tried their best but mentally they were not ready. Winning is not normal, it is a habit you have to acquire. Slowly [during the world championship], I realised that the women’s team wasn’t mentally fresh," he said.

Costantini narrated an interesting story about the amount of respect Indians have gained at the world arena. "A day before the match against China in the World championship, a Chinese coach was looking for videos of the final CWG final match between India and Singapore. They wanted to see how Manika Batra (with pimpled rubber) play and how other Indians have fared. They were afraid and concerned before the match. We could see that clearly. I have no doubt in my mind that Indians are getting better and better--you can't analyse everything in numbers--and they are gaining respect from the International community," he said.

The Indian men’s team, said Costantini, did well, mainly due to Sharath Kamal’s experience and class. "Men recovered quickly after CWG due to Sharath. This was his best World championships where he won 10 matches and lost just three.

"I think not many have such a [win-loss] record at this Worlds. The team revolved around him and without him, the result wouldn’t have been possible," he said.

"Others need to learn from him on how to recover quickly and reach the peak."