Table Tennis: Ankita Das wants to step it up in London lympics

Table Tennis: Ankita Das wants to step it up in London lympics

first_imgThe odds she battled only toughened her and catapulted her to greater heights. Ankita Das is 18 but left the national stalwarts like Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das behind in making the cut for the London Olympics.In 2010, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) had identified two young players from India for a scholarship programme to prepare them for the 2016 Olympics. They were Ankita and Sauymajit Ghosh, the other paddler from India to have qualified for the Olympics. While Saumyajit honed his skills at the famous Peter Karlsson academy in Sweden, Ankita could not go for the long overseas training due to family constraints.That, though, did not crush the spirits of the teenager and she put all her energy at the academy in her hometown Siliguri, run by former national champion Mantu Ghosh. “I was feeling very down for not being able to train in Sweden. My coach ( Mantu) supported me and said you can learn everything even at home if you are willing to work hard. I took it in my stride and doubled my effort,” said Ankita.Ankita’s graph has risen steadily since her cadet days. She has been the national champion cutting across all age groups and won gold at the World Cadet Championship in 2007. But the big break came when she made it to the quarterfinals of the Junior World Championship last year as an unseeded player, upsetting some big names. She lost a close battle to world No. 10 China’s Ruochen Gu.”That tournament instilled a lot of confidence in me and I thought that I can also make it big,” said Ankita.advertisementThough Ankita has never competed at the international events like the Asian Games or the Commonwealth Games, she is not overawed by the grand stage. “It cannot get bigger than the Olympics. It feels great to have got my first big break in the Olympics. Of course there will be pressure on us, but as my coach says you can be a good player only if you are able to play with an amount of pressure. I know medal will be tough, but I want to leave a mark so that I can look back at my performance with pride.”Ankita became the part of the Indian team for the South Asian qualifiers after beating veteran Mouma Das in the Olympic trials. K Shamini and Poulomi Ghatak were the top two paddlers from the country at the Hong Kong event, but Ankita walked away with the honours.After finishing third in her pool, she was pitted against an experienced Shamini, a clash that was to eventually decide the Olympic berth. “I was tensed. I had beaten Shamini before, but she had a better record against me. I called Mantu di (coach) and she calmed me down and asked me to play my natural game. When I beat Shamini, I was in a state of shock for a few minutes. I stood near the table in disbelief before the coach shook me from the trance,” said Ankita.What waited for her on reaching Siliguri was unthinkable. “It was crazy. A huge crowd had gathered. Saumyajit and I were taken in a procession.”last_img

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