The highly anticipated 2019 World Table Tennis Championships will kick off from 21 April in Hungary’s capital city of Budapest. Hopes will be high from India’s star paddlers Manika Batra, G Sathiyan and A Sharath Kamal to perform well at the 55th edition of the prestigious tournament.
Winning big at Budapest will be crucial for India for earning ranking points ahead of the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics.
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Here is all you need to know about the World Table Tennis Championships:
India’s Performance So Far
The year 2018 proved to be one of the best in Indian TT’s modern history. It all started with Manika Batra three historic medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The first medal – a gold – came in the women’s team event followed by a silver in the women’s doubles event. However, by defeating Singapore’s Mengyu Yu 4-0, Batra became the first Indian to win a gold in the CWG Women’s singles event.
She followed it up with another great outing at 2018 Jakarta Asian Games. Teaming up with Sharath Kamal, the 23-year-old managed to stun the North Korean pair of Cha Hyo Sim and An Ji Song in the quarter-finals to ensure a bronze. With that, Batra also became the first Indian woman athlete to win an Asiad medal.
Kamal also won another bronze in the men’s team event. “At the start of the year, if anyone would have said we will win one, let alone two medals at the Asian Games, I would have laughed it off. It has been that kind of year. Best ever year for me and best ever for Indian table tennis,” the 36-year-old later told to PTI in an interview.
All the paddlers, Batra, Sharath, and Sathian saw their ranks rise in the aftermath. While Manika moved to 46 (she is ranked 56 now), Sharath and Sathian rose to 33 and 28 respectively.
Considering their form, hopes will be high from these stars for a medal at Budapest.
In the run into the 2019 World Championships, the Indian Table Tennis faced a few blockades. Firstly, Italian coach Massimo Costantini, the man behind India’s TT renaissance, left the national job in September last year. However, the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) failed to find a replacement and the national team was coach-less for over 7 months.
“While the TTFI is looking for the best available coach, we are losing momentum. 201`9 is an important year ahead of the Olympics and whoever comes in will need at least three months to understand the Indian system. So, it is imperative that the coach is appointed as soon as possible,” Sharath Kamal said in an interview with PTI.
Then there was the issue of gaining clearances to play at international tournaments like Hungarian Open, and Portugal Open. In fact, due to three players missed the Lisbon event owing to late approvals from government bodies.
Then, there was the confusion over the release of government funds. While the TTFI informed that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) was stalling the release, SAI clarified that it had received the names late. In fact, with the time running out for the players to apply for a visa, a TTFI official went as far as to say that if the funds were not released on time, the federation would have to send the players on from in-house funds.
Nonetheless, such disturbances have a negative impact on the players’ overall preparation of the competition.
The World Table Tennis Championships will take place from 21st to 28th April 2019. Here is the complete schedule.
The World Table Tennis Championships will be held at Hungexpo Budapest, Albertirsai út 10, 1101, Hungary.
The tickets for the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships can be brought from here.
About World Table Tennis Championships
The World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) is one of the oldest and the most prestigious TT competitions. Started in 1926, WTTC moved to be a biennial affair since 1957. The competition has five individual events – men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.
In its early days, it was Hungary’s men’s team who dominated the WTTC by winning on 12 occasions. However, post-1960s, the Asian nations, especially China, commanded the tournament. In fact, the Chinese men’s team boasts a record of winning 20 world team championship titles.