Delay in the appointment of foreign coach hitting us hard, says Sharath Kamal

Iconic Indian paddler, Sharath Kamal, says the delay in the arrival of a foreign coach hasn't helped the Indian team's preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sharath Kamal during a promotional event in Chennai on Monday to celebrate Chennai Lions' Ultimate Table Tennis triumph.   -  K. Pichumani

The Indian men’s and women’s table tennis teams have been without a foreign coach for close to a year now. Canada's Dejan Papic was supposed to join the team, finally, in August this year, but a knee surgery has further delayed his arrival.

One of the mainstays of the Indian men’s team, Sharath Kamal, said the absence of a coach has not helped the team’s quest to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“This is the longest wait we have ever had in terms of appointment of a foreign coach. After the 2010 Commonwealth Games, we had a long wait due to scams. It was a 3-6 month wait for a coach [then]. [Now] it is hitting us hard,” said Sharath.

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The team's immediate focus, he said, will be the Asian championship from September 15 to 22 in Bali, Indonesia. After that, the team will be competing in Pro Tours including the Swedish Open, German Open and Austrian Open.

According to Sharath, the men’s doubles team comprising himself and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran has a chance of bagging a medal at in the Asian championships. “In the team event, we have generally made it to the quarterfinals, this time if we could make it to the semifinals and win a medal, would be great,” he said.

The former Commonwealth Games champion said the Table Tennis Federation of India has accepted to postpone the Senior National championships scheduled in the second week of January 2020 in Telangana to allow the team to concentrate on the Olympic qualification [team] tournament in Gondomar (Portugal) from January 22 to 26.