The postponement of Tokyo Olympics to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic has given India’s table tennis squad more time to prepare and given the current scenario, the sport’s governing body is looking to fill the head coach’s position locally rather than hiring a foreign coach.
The head coach position has been lying vacant since the 2018 Asian Games due to multiple factors.
The Table Tennis Federation of India had tried to rope in Canadian Dejan Papic last year but things did not work out as the latter decided to undergo a knee surgery when he was expected to join the squad.
“We can only look at an Indian coach now. There is no activity happening at the moment but when things get better, I doubt a foreign coach would like to come here considering the global situation (due to coronavirus),” said TTFI secretary general M P Singh.
“Indian coaches anyway have been working with the men and women team over the past one year. Most likely, we would stick with them.”
Former national champions Soumyadeep Roy and Arup Basak have been working with men and women respectively for more than a year.
With the entire world sporting scene coming to a standstill due to the pandemic, there is a lack of clarity over the Olympic qualification events.
The Asian qualifier was supposed to take place next month but world body ITTF has suspended all activity until the end of April.
“We are waiting for the ITTF for more details on the future. The Olympic qualifying events need to be rescheduled and may be fresh rankings will have to be considered for qualification,” Singh added.
India’s highest-ranked player G Sathiyan, who is in line to qualify alongside veteran Sharath Kamal, said it is still too early to talk about the game.
“Decision could only be made after the world is able to contain the virus. Indian coach is an option but will have to discuss with TTFI and SAI when the time comes and take a call,” said Sathiyan.
Among the women, Manika Batra has the best chance of making the Olympics cut.