Shared News | UPDATED: JULY 20, 2018 21:34 IST
The coach remains realistic about Indian paddlers’ chances at the Asian Games
Highest medal haul in the Commonwealth Games. Most number of paddlers in top-100 world rankings. And the best outing ever in the World Table Tennis Championship team events. Indian table tennis is definitely on a high. More than all these quantitative achievements, what pleases the national head coach Massimo Costantini is the “respect” Indian paddlers have earned on the international circuit.
“Overall, there is a lot of satisfaction in the performance of the players and now we have a different mindset going to the Asian Games because we are getting a lot of respect from other countries. Players from other countries look at India with very high respect,” Costantini told The Hindu during the recently-concluded Central Zone national ranking tournament in Indore.
“That was my idea when I came back here. I wanted to change two perceptions: One, that we can perform well and not start as losers; second is the opponent’s perception while facing an Indian player. Earlier, the opponents didn’t really take Indian players very seriously. Now, when an Indian enters the arena against any player — even Chinese — we are at the same level and the opponents are wary while facing an Indian.”
Costantini is serving his second stint as India coach, after guiding India’s paddlers to a successful Commonwealth Games showing in 2010. The Italian, however, was realistic about Indian paddlers’ chances at next month’s Asian Games in Indonesia.
“In team events, we definitely look good to get into the quarterfinal. Winning that would assure us of a medal since there’s no play-off. Once we get into the quarters, the men have to play against China, Japan, Korea or one of Taipei or Hong Kong. If we play either Taipei or Hong Kong, I feel we have a very high chance of winning a medal because we know their players very well and we know that they are scared of us. When it comes to the other three teams, it’s all about starting well and hoping for the best,” Costantini said.
“For women, we have a similar situation. China, Japan and Korea are super-strong. The fourth team can be Taipei, Hong Kong or Singapore. If we face one of these three, we have a chance. So it depends on luck, but we know that if we play any of the stronger teams, they will be under pressure and we will have nothing to lose. In the individuals, it will all depend on the draw to see how far (G.) Sathiyan and Manika (Batra) go.”