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New Delhi, January 31, 2020
The Indian men's and women's table tennis teams missed out on an opportunity to secure qualification for the Tokyo Olympics in the 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification tournament in Portugal earlier this month, but the top Indian TT players still have a chance to book a berth in the singles competition.
G. Sathiyan has expressed that the top Indian singles players have a great chance of qualifying for the Olympics.
"We have a very big chance for qualifying for the singles and I will definitely try to make amends there and see how I can improve my best and how I can maintain my top form. The preparations are going great. We have a lot of tournaments scheduled. I am pretty sure that I will make the cut very soon," he said.
The Indian table tennis contingent performed exceedingly well at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018 with the women's team clinching gold at CWG and the men's team winning bronze at the Asian Games, among other medals. Sathiyan said that increased exposure for athletes has helped the sport grow in India.
"Table tennis has improved by leaps and bounds in India. The very fact that we were the favourites in such a big tournament like the Olympic qualification talks about how we have grown in the last four years. We have started proving our mettle in the world arena. It's not an easy job for teams to take on India now. The exposure for all the players has increased with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) sending us for a lot of training camps abroad and the Ultimate Table Tennis (table tennis league) is making India a table tennis destination. It's a culmination of a lot of things that have helped the sport grow in India," said the 27-year-old.
After successfully hosting the Khelo India Youth Games, the Indian government has decided to conduct the Khelo India University Games. The first edition of the competition is set to be held in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1, 2020. Sathiyan said that this tournament will bridge the gap between youth athletes and top sportspersons in India.
"The Khelo India University Games is quite a good tournament because I feel the competition will bridge the gap between the youth athletes and top athletes. There are school games for the youth athletes and the top athletes are being supported by the government through the Target Olympic Podium Scheme. So the university-level in India needed to be addressed as a lot of athletes drop out at this level due to lack of support. I am really happy that the government is starting the University Games as we can find the real big talents at this level, who can make a mark for our country," Sathiyan added.