Express News Service
CUTTACK: After hosting Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup, the state added another feather in its cap by conducting the 21st edition Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Cuttack recently.
Certainly, the state’s focus is on table tennis now. The Sports Department has hired a Japanese coach to provide world-class training to the table tennis players in the state.
“Table Tennis is the fastest racquet-based indoor sports. Besides being a popular sporting activity in the world it has great health benefits. We are trying to promote it both for sports as well as for a healthy lifestyle,” said Vishal Dev, Sports and Youth Services Department Secretary.
“At present, we have 30 young paddlers who are being trained at our indoor facility in the City. Few under-12 players have held significant India ranking. The state government has engaged a Japanese Coach who brings with him 20 years of expertise to impart training to our young paddlers. Under his guidance they will learn basic and advance skills to compete at different state and national levels,” added Dev.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer Takuya Sakamoto has been hired as the TT coach. While India holds the 11th spot in world TT rankings, Japan is among top three.
“I am here to share my experience with the U-18 paddlers. I will acquaint them with the nuances of the sport. After two weeks of training, I found that the players here are talented. They spend eight hours a day in the indoor-hall for getting trained in the sport,” said Sakamoto.
The coach highlighted that over the years the Indian players have evolved and are giving a tough competition to other countries.
“It is for the first time that we are receiving such training in the city,” said 12-year-old Swata Padma Dalai, a state-level table tennis player.
During the commonwealth championship, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced that the State Government would give priority to the sport and ensure its development in the State. It was declared that the government would provide 200 tables across the State and engage accredited coaches for training players.
It was for the seventh time that India hosted the international table tennis championship. Mumbai was the first Indian city to host it in 1982, followed by Hyderabad (1994), New Delhi (2001), Jaipur (2007), New Delhi (2013), Surat (2015) and Cuttack (2019).
In the recently-concluded championship, 12 teams representing Australia, Bangladesh, Cyprus, England,
Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Scotland, South Africa, Singapore and Wales had participated.
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