The country’s former table tennis coach Massimo Costantini has advised Indian paddlers to choose tournaments wisely ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics playoffs.
Under the Italian aegis, India had made rapid progress with historic performances at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and the Asian Games in Jakarta, where the country ended a 60-year wait for a medal table tennis.
However, Constantini had decided not to renew his contract last year for personal reasons. Since his departure, Indian paddlers have been deprived of the services of a national coach.
âThe Olympics are always very special. I think you need to analyze your opportunities and take a balanced approach to tournaments. Try to have a good appetite and miss tournaments if necessary. They need to plan their fitness and training well and find the perfect balance, âsaid Constantini from the Ultimate table tennis league here.
âThey have to combine the amount of competition and performance. They must also prioritize their training plans. Now they have the qualifying phase they need to focus on, âhe added.
Constantini, who is currently the Director of High Performance at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), praised the Indian paddlers for their good show despite being coachless.
âLack of guidance is a major problem. Being alone can be a weakness. Planning, advice and support are very important to the players. So I admire the Indian players for the fact that they behave so well despite this. Manav (Thakkar), G Sathiyan and Manika (Batra) are doing very well. They handled this period very well, âhe said.
The 61-year-old backed up world number 30 Sathiyan to give his opponents a good fight in the Olympic qualifiers.
âSathiyan has a fantastic chance to qualify for the Olympics. He can be a big threat to many gamers. In fact, I think the Olympics are easier than the World Championships, which have more Chinese, Japanese and Korean competitors. Here there is a lower number. So technically Sathiyan has a great chance, âConstantini said.
Constantini also revealed that he has kept in touch with Indian paddlers and that they are open to seek his advice at any time.
âI have not only been in contact, but followed their performance on the ITTF website. Some still ask me what to do, what to change. Some people text me personally, which is nice, âhe said.
âBut it’s natural because after having done so much and accomplished so much, I continue to follow them. Even in ITTF training camps, I meet them.
India’s best chance for a medal in table tennis comes from Asian Games bronze medalist mixed doubles pair Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal.
Speaking of the duo, Constantini said that if both players come in with the right frame of mind, then they can win in Tokyo.
âAll doubles are very unpredictable, that’s the problem. But Manika and Sharath have a definite advantage. They have the power to be promising candidates. If you are able to reach a milestone you can do it again, so it’s all about the state of mind, âhe said.