Table Tennis preview Rio Olympics 2016: Can Manika, Soumyajit and other Indian paddlers live up to expectations?
Table tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world. China, Germany, Korea and Japan have ruled the sport in the global scene of late.
China especially have produced some of the best players over the years and they are favourite to be at the top of their game again.
Table tennis was first introduced in Olympic Games back in 1988. This game requires quick feet and a pair of good eyes to spot the ball and nobody does it better than the Chinese players currently as they have won the most number of gold medals in world's most prestigious sporting event till date.
India will also have four table tennis players, who will want to prove their worth in front of the world. Manika Batra, Mouma Das, Soumyajit Ghosh and Sharath Kamal Achanta are the four players, who will represent India at the Rio Olympics.
Batra, who is India's top-ranked woman player, booked a place at Rio Olympics 2016 through the ITTF South Asian Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong, earlier this year. She went on to win the gold medal at the 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Malaysia. Batra also won 4 medals at the 2016 South Asian Games in Shillong, India.
In this calendar year, Batra has been extremely good and she is one of India's hopes at the Rio Games.
Meanwhile, Mouma Das will be appearing in her second Olympics after a 12-year hiatus. She will feature in both women's singles and women's doubles event in Rio and will be partnering with Batra in the doubles.
Sharath Kamal Achanta and Soumyajit Ghosh are the male paddlers at the Rio Olympics. This is going to be Achanta's third Olympics after 2004 and 2008. He has got the experience of the big stage, but has not managed to bag a medal for India in the previous Summer Games.
On the other hand, Soumyajit made his first appearance in London Olympics but could not make a mark there.
Considering the fact that India have never won an Olympic medal at the Olympic Games till date and have never crossed the first round in women's singles and second in men's singles, much is not expected from them. However, Indian fans will still be hoping for the best ahead of the start of the Rio games.
Coming to the serious contenders of the gold medals at Rio Olympics 2016, China are yet again favourites to clinch the gold medal as they will be represented by top seeded Ma Long in the men's category and Ding Ling in the female's category. China are also expected to win the gold in the doubles event as well. Li Xiaoxia from China, is seeded third among the women participants at the Rio Games.
Germany, who are ranked second in the world according to the current rankings, will also take a shy at a podium finish through their best paddler Ovtacharov Dimitrij. In the women's category, Han Ying and Solja Petrissa will represent the Germans at the Rio Olympics.
Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Portugal and France are other countries who will try and put up a fight in the big stage as well.
Source: International Business Times