India’s chances to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in Table Tennis

As athletes and teams from the world around gear up to represent their nations in the upcoming sporting extravaganza, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Schedule is set to commence from the 24th of July, 2020. Similarly, the Indian table tennis team with the hopes to earn a berth at the Olympics has been competing in the Olympic qualifiers meanwhile. In the World Team Qualification tournament held in Portugal for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the fifth-seeded men’s team faced Luxembourg in the first round while the women played against Sweden.

The Indian Squad consisted of the following players for the Olympic qualifiers –

Men’s: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Achanta Sharath Kamal, Manav Vikas Thakkar, Harmeet Desai, Anthony Amalraj

Women’s: Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Ayhika Mukherjee, Madhurika Patkar, Archana Girish Kamath

However, both the men’s and women’s failed to deliver and lost to Slovenia and Romania respectively in the pre-quarterfinals of the Olympic qualifying team event. This significantly reduced their chances to qualify for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.  The 17th seeded women gave their best efforts before losing to the fifth seeds Romania 2-3. The men’s team which was seeded fifth in the tournament and were expected to get the better of 11th seeded Slovenia, majorly disappointed with their 1-3 defeat. The fifth-seeded men’s team comprised of G Sathiyan (World Rank – 30) and veteran Sharath Kamal (World Rank – 33). 

Despite the Indian men’s and women’s table tennis teams failing to secure qualification for the Tokyo Olympics in the 2020 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Qualification tournament, The Indian table tennis contingent performed exceedingly well at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games (CWG) in 2018. The women’s team clinched a gold medal at CWG while the men’s team won bronze at the Asian Games, among other medals. 

There are two important forthcoming events in Asia – The Team World Championships in Busan, South Korea and the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Bangkok. Although the ITTF has indefinitely postponed the February 28 – March 1 Hainan Asia Cup, the events in Busan and Bangkok are under watch, and India will look to give their best shot in these upcoming events. The contingent has planned to set up a training camp in South Korea for the World Championships, which is not yet confirmed. 

There’s still hope that the top paddlers like G. Sathiyan and more can make the cut to the Olympics and increase India’s chances of adding to the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Medal Tally. It is expected that a maximum of two Indians from the men’s & women’s team can qualify and keep the chance of winning 4 medals from table tennis alive. 

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