In yet another Indian Rio Olympic contingent controversy, National team coach Bhawani Mukherjee has criticised India’s top ranked Men’s paddler Soumyajit Ghosh over his walkover, during the Inter Institutional Table Tennis Championship in Jaipur. Representing the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), the 23-year old decided to give the individual event a miss as the brand of balls being used were different from the ones demarcated for Rio. However, other Olympic bound athletes, such as Sharath Kamal did participate in the event. This particular incident has not gone down too well with the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI).
Mukherjee said, “This is definitely not the kind of attitude I expect from India’s top ranked paddler who is going to Rio. This is match practice and it hardly matters which ball you’re playing with. As a professional, you must be able to adapt to different kind of balls, this close to Rio one should be participating in any form of match practice they can get. The Ministry has spent a lot of money in helping the paddlers get exposure, and it would only be fair if he played against the top Indian paddlers.”
The tournament used GKI balls, instead of the DHS Olympic ones. In his defence, Ghosh stated that he didn’t want to leave anything to chance in Rio. He said, “I did play the team event and I realised that I wasn’t comfortable as I was practicing on something different altogether. The DHS balls are much lighter and different, so I didn’t want to mess up my practice regime ahead of arguably the biggest event. I wasn’t injured or anything either, just want to head to Rio with my best practice behind me.
A senior TTFI official expressed disappointment over Soumyajit’s choice of forfeit as well. He said, “Why should there be a problem when it’s a ITTF sanctioned ball. It’s used across the world and as professionals you must be able to play with all of them. Plus one is used to playing with GKI balls in India, so I don’t see any problem. Even Sharath played the individual event, we feel that he missed out on major match practice.”
The four member table tennis contingent including Soumyajit Ghosh, Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra and Mouma Das are scheduled to leave for Rio on July 30.