“Like any other Indian mother, my mom wanted me to be an engineer and move to US, but I chose table tennis above all,” said India’s ace paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal.
Speaking to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the 35th PSPB Inter Unit Table Tennis Tournament at Abhay Prashal Stadium in Indore on Friday, the country’s top paddler said, “My mother wanted me to follow my cousins, but being born in a family of table tennis players, I had no option but to choose table tennis.”
The 33-year-old Chennai-born player, who was coached by his father and uncle, said, “When I started playing at the age of four, many kids took this as an extracurricular activity but now they are taking it as a profession.”
“We are still far behind far-east Asian countries”
“We are still far behind far-east Asian countries like China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea as they have produced world champions during the 60s and 70s. Now, they have icons whom juniors must follow. We Indians too have iconic table tennis players to look up to,” said Kamal, when asked about India’s position with respect to giants of the game like China and S Korea.
“Indian table tennis has been constantly developing”
Kamal, who achieved his highest world rank of 32 in May 2015 and is currently on rank 52, said, “Indian table tennis has been constantly developing. It is not a thumb rule to have a foreigner coach to clinch the top position. Indian coaches are equally talented but they lack exposure.”
“Coaches need to update themselves with trends. They must acquire knowledge and pass it on to juniors. This is key to success for any good coach,” he added.
Kamal said he is in form for Rio Olympics for which, the qualification process is yet to be officially finalised. When asked about his favourite competitors, the paddler said he loves to play against European players, but likes beating Chinese paddlers as they always put up challenging performances.