Soumyajit Ghosh keen on making up for lost time

Soumyajit Ghosh, who won the Central Zone National title on Monday, is keen to make up for lost time and hungry to return to the Indian table tennis team.

Soumyajit Ghosh (L) made a big impression in the table tennis arena on Monday by winning the men’s title at the UTT Central Zone National Ranking Tournament in Bhavnagar.   -  Special Arrangement

Ever since he was a recipient of the Olympic Solidarity scholarship in 2009 as a teenager and a bronze medallist at the World Junior Championship the following year, Soumyajit Ghosh has been in the limelight. But for the last couple of years, the paddler has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

After being accused of rape in March 2018, Ghosh was suspended by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) and was axed from India’s squad that went on to win the gold in the Commonwealth Games. After marrying the girl and weeks after his suspension was his lifted, he was accused for domestic violence. After being granted bail by a court in Kolkata, Ghosh made his first big impression in the table tennis arena on Monday, claiming the men’s title of the UTT Central Zone National Ranking Tournament in Bhavnagar.

“I am very happy. It’s been tough last couple of years but I am delighted with this achievement and hopefully I can reclaim my place in the Indian team very soon,” Ghosh told Sportstar from Bhavnagar.

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Ever since Ghosh, who at 19 became the youngest National champion in 2011, lost his place in India’s squad, besides the CWG achievement, India’s men have achieved their best-ever World ranking in the last couple of years. Losing out on “golden period” hurt Ghosh as much as losing his reputation due to the scandal in 2018.

“Both were hurting me. Personally I was shattered. Besides, I missed my golden period. Lost out on the CWG and the World Championship (where India finished 13th). I guess all these things run parallel. If I play well, I can regain the lost glory,” he said.

“Life throws various challenges at you but it’s satisfying and enjoyable when you manage to overcome them. I have seen plenty of lows in life - went through a terrible time after the suspension. Perhaps table tennis could only be the healer for it. I am happy I am trying to take these small steps that could bring closure to it. I think the better I perform, lesser will be the impact of all these problems,” he continued.

Soon after Ghosh’s suspension, Manav Thakkar has cemented his place in India’s squad. Ghosh - who marked his return to international arena by making it to the semifinals of the Nigeria Open, an ITTF Challenge Plus event, in August - feels the last two weeks, where he made it to the semifinals of the West Zone national ranking tournament in Mumbai followed by the title-winning run in Bhavnagar, has given him the belief to achieve his goal.

“The manner in which I have played so far this season, I see myself firmly in top-six. It will soon reflect in rankings and hopefully the selectors will take note,” he said.

Ghosh thanked his family - “every member of the joint family”, “Roy da” (his mentor Soumyadeep Roy) and TTFI - for standing through thick and thin with him and trainer Chinmoy Roy and physiotherapist Harvik Bagchi for helping him manage a hip injury.