Shillong, Apr 24: Four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sharath Kamal can well understand the difficulties facing Meghalaya’s table tennis players at big tournaments like the ongoing 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championship here.
While the Meghalaya paddlers did find some success, they were unable to progress to the business end of the championship but Kamal said that the big picture has to be considered when looking at their performances.
“You can’t just say they didn’t do well. You have to see the growth that is happening and give them time. Only when they are expected to do well but don’t can you say that they are not performing well,” Kamal, who last played in Shillong in 2007, said. “Here at a higher altitude it is very difficult because the air is lighter and the ball floats, so there are not so many rallies. It makes it very difficult to build up momentum, so I can clearly understand the kind of difficulties the local players have here.”
The 39-year-old also said that he is happy to be back in Shillong going up against the best in the country. This edition is the largest in the history of the national TT championship, with 38 men’s team and 35 women’s comprising 500 paddlers.
“It’s always nice to come here because I know the players and officials and the organisers (the Meghalaya Table Tennis Association) are putting a lot of effort to make this a grand success and I’m really happy to be part of this prestigious tournament. Meghalaya is putting up their best show in terms of organisation and hospitality,” Kamal, who will feature in the men’s singles quarterfinal later tonight, said.
With India improving step by step in table tennis, he said that to improve further, more improvements in infrastructure need to be made nationally.
“India has been doing fantastically well in the last four to five years but to improve we have to have a strong bench strength and the first important aspect is infrastructure. India’s sporting culture is moving in the right direction over the last 10 years but we’ll have to invest more. In recent years we have had good support from the government, federation and sporting industry,” Kamal, who is also an Asian Games and Asian Championships medallist, stated.
For the youngsters who are coming up, he said that the most important part of their career is the process of practice. “Give your heart’s best and results will follow. That’s how I became the best in the country. To grow further I had to go out of the country. To a young Meghalaya or anybody who is wanting to grow, they have to always look for a place that can give them better infrastructure. You also need to get out of your comfort zone and have the support of your family too.”
(Meghalaya Table Tennis Association photo)