In the wake of the Table Tennis Federation of India submitting its bid for the World Championships (team) at the end of the year, International Table Tennis President (ITTF) Thomas Weikert said that it is the right time for the country to host a mega-event.
Weikert on Saturday (January 11) told PTI that India is one of the 32-teams in the event and has come up as a strong contender.
“We like the fact India is bidding for a big event like the World Championships. 2024 the right time. It is a 32-team event and India is strong in teams. It is easier for them to make the quarterfinals than the individual event,” he said.
The reaction came after the two-day executive meeting of ITTF in the national capital, the first one here since 1987 when India last hosted the World Championships.
The last big ITTF event that was staged in India was in 2012 when Hyderabad hosted the World Junior Championships.
“We choose India because we think there is a huge potential in India. You can see that in the world rankings. You can see that when it organises events, you see that in their performance at events like the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
“India has improved a lot. There are many young Indian players who play on the ITTF world tour. It is important that we have ambitious associations and India is one of them,” said Weikert.
Indian table tennis has taken massive strides in the last 24 months. Manika Batra won as many as four medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, including two gold, before the men’s team did the unthinkable by winning a bronze at the Asian Games, ending a 60-year wait.
Their sensational Asian Games ride got sweeter when Manika and Sharath Kamal paired up to win the mixed doubles bronze.
Three Indian male players — G Sathiyan (WR 30), Sharath (33) and Harmeet Desai (86) are in the top-100 of the latest ITTF rankings while Manika is the sole Indian women in the top-100 at 61.
The men’s squad is ranked an unprecedented 8th in the team rankings and has a great opportunity to secure India’s first event Olympic qualification as a team in Portugal later this month. All they need to do is to reach the quarterfinals of the Olympic qualification event.