England not reaching final a blessing in disguise: Amalraj
The Media, on Monday, spoke to the triumphant men’s table tennis team. Excerpts:
Sharath Kamal: In 2006, when we won the gold, we were the underdogs. We were the top seed here and there were a lot of expectations. In a way, the draw also favoured us. I think if England had reached the final, it would have been tough. We planned well and everything went according to the script.
G. Sathiyan: The feeling is yet to sink in. It is a dream debut for me, an amazing feeling. Actually, we were preparing for England (in the final), and were pleasantly surprised to see Nigeria. But we were not complacent. I think we got better with every match. Hopefully, we should add more medals.
A. Amalraj: That England didn’t reach the final was a blessing in disguise. Also the fact that Singapore is weaker now, made our job that much easier. Beating Nigeria was sweet revenge as we lost to it in the 2014 Glasgow Games in the bronze medal play-off. Had Aruna Quadri (World ranked 26) been here (he was reportedly sick), the final would have been tough.
Harmeet Desai: This is a special moment for me. The girls winning the gold motivated us. The atmosphere was good. It all helped.
Massimo Costantini (head coach): The team has matured well. The main reason for the men & women teams doing well is that the Indian seniors have taken part in 16 Pro Tours in 2017. Out of which Indians reached the podium in 12 competitions. All the training camps, tournaments and the chemistry between players have made this happen. Sharath (Kamal) has been a true leader, and a humble student of the game.
Soumyadeep Roy (assistant coach): So far, it’s been a dream run. Men and women winning gold, I don’t know when it will happen next. We have trained hard in the camps, devised strategies. It has borne fruit. We won in 2006 [Melbourne], too. Australia has been lucky.