HomeKreedOn CandidsHarmeet Desai has the only mission to ensure qualification for Paris Olympics

Harmeet Desai has the only mission to ensure qualification for Paris Olympics

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Introduction

Harmeet Desai does not need any introduction. Harmeet is one of the best table tennis players in present-day Indian table tennis. The Arjuna awardee, gold medalist in the singles of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship, the key man in the bronze medal-winning three-man Indian men’s team in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and in a similar way the anchor man in the gold medal-winning three-man Indian men’s team in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games this year, Harmeet has taken a pause from competitions after winning the gold medal in the recently-concluded Gujarat National Games.

Preparation for the Dream

The 27-year-old paddler is now in Germany, training at a top German club in Stuttgart to strengthen his skill and he is also going to Slovenia within a couple of weeks to participate in a competition also. Harmeet told me through a telephonic conversation from there that he has plans to stay in Germany till December. He said,

“Playing with top paddlers in Germany will help me more to improve my game. Looking forward to the qualification for the Olympics in 2024 in Paris, I have resumed preparation, and the World Championship in the next year is one major competition where the paddlers will get the opportunity to secure their Olympics qualifications through their performances. I have not ever been to the Olympics. I dream of participating in the Olympics.”

Harmeet DesaiIn Pursuit of a Revival in Ranking

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Harmeet whose ranking in the World was within the top 100 (71st) in 2021 has gone down. Presently he is ranked 118 in the World. Harmeet explained,

“Even if you fail to exhibit an impressive show in the World Championship, the Olympics Committee as well as the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) might consider you as one of the qualifiers for the Olympics. In that case, your world ranking should be within the top 50 in the World. I do not feel it is impossible. That is why I have now the only mission. That is to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.”

Beginning of the Journey – Harmeet Desai

Harmeet started playing table tennis at the age of 5 years. His father Rajul Desai who also was a state-level paddler taught Harmeet the basics of the game at their home in Surat. Harmeet remembered,

“I had a coach that time, Shabbir Bengali. But I learned mainly from my father. We had a table tennis board at our home. Then my elder brother Hriday Desai was my coach till I was 15 or 16 years old. He also represented Gujarat in national-level competitions. He used to sit on the bench during my matches.”

Karlsson Influence

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Harmeet did not hesitate to state that he was greatly influenced by the tutelage of a former five-time world champion who turned coach later, the legendary Swedish Peter Karlsson. Harmeet practiced under Karlsson at a top Swedish club Falkenberg FC and he was there for six years (2010-2015). He still cherishes those days saying,

“I used to train under him for almost six hours every day. While demonstrating the technical part of the game, Karlsson often matches against me and it was amazing to watch that even after having retired from the game long back how brilliant he was still as a player. I have gained a lot of things from him like maturity, aggression, technical skill, and reading the opposition’s game. After returning from Sweden I started drawing the attention of the table tennis fraternity through some impressive performances, even some of the ITTF-organized circuit meets in Brazil, Thailand, Bangkok, and Indonesia Open also. I became the first Asian paddler to have won the ITFF-organized Indonesia Open championship.”

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Harmeet hailed his deciding match for the Indian men’s team against Singapore where his outstanding show helped the team to acquire a gold medal as the most memorable match so far.

Effect of Mental Conditioning on Harmeet Desai

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Harmeet Desai also is one of the students of renowned sports psychologist Gayatri Vartak like his teammate Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet said,

“I am noticeably benefitted by Gayatri Madam’s classes and motivational training. My thought process has been more positive than before. Otherwise, being a fan of Rafael Nadal I often go through the articles published by him, and his videos. His comeback from injury and determination also inspire me a lot.”


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