Youth Olympics: Tough challenge for India in table tennis

India does not seem to have a realistic chance of adding to the medal tally from table tennis. The only outside chance of a medal, if any, can come from mixed doubles.

Archana Kamath is ranked ninth in the world list for under-18.   -  S. Siva Saravanan

Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath, two of the finest teen table tennis players in the country, present the Indian challenge for a medal. Since both the paddlers are ranked in the top-10 list of World under-18 , it is natural to expect the duo to be in the medal hunt in singles. But the competition is going to be very tough.

In mixed doubles, it can get unpredictable since the players at this level do not combine very often in competitions.

Manav, a tireless youngster, has done well both in seniors and juniors on the domestic circuits for a while. He was also part of the Asian Games squad that returned with a historic bronze medal.

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Though Manav should be among the higher seeds in the singles, winning a medal will mean a lot of hard work. The obvious favourite is going to the Japanese sensation Tomozaku Harimoto, ranked eighth in the men’s world ranking.

Some of the other leading nations, including China, is not being represented by those high in the world ranking list. Given the talent available in China, it should not come as a surprise if Wang Chuqin, a relatively unknown name in the age-group competition, makes his
presence felt.

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From the world under-21 ranking list, those who can be expected to stretch Harimoto are, Chinese Taipie’s fifth ranked Lin Yun-Ju and 10th ranked Frenchman Cristian Pletea.
 
The presence of a number of top-ranked players from the world under-18 list makes the competition very interesting. Manav, ranked fourth, is in the midst of several other serious contenders. USA’s Kanak Jha, a former No. 1 who is now placed second, third ranked Swede Truls Moregard, fifth-ranked Youssef Abdul-Aziz and eighth-ranked Greek Ioannis Sgouropoulos are the other medal aspirants.

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Among the girls, Archana is ranked ninth in the world list for under-18. Unlike Manav, Archana has not had any major success in the women section. Even in the Ultimate Table Tennis League, Archana had very little to show.

Though the girls from China and Japan, Sun Yingsha and Miu Hirano are relatively unknown, third ranked Su Pei-Ling from Chinese Taipei begins as a ranking favourite. Serbia’s Sabina Surjan and Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, ranked fourth and fifth, will also be seen as
among the serious medal contenders.

USA’s Wang Amy and Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut are the others to watch out for.

Overall, India does not seem to have a realistic chance of adding to the medal tally from table tennis. The only outside chance of a medal, if any, can come from mixed doubles.