Millennium Post

New India number one Ghosh says he in good shape for Rio

The young Soumyajit Ghosh, who has broken A Sharath Kamal's decade old stranglehold over being the top-ranked Indian table tennis player, says his recent results have been a real shot in the arm leaving him in good space for the Rio Olympics.

Ghosh had pipped the more experienced Sharath for the lone London Olympics spot and even this time the 23-year-old qualified ahead of his more experienced teammate. A sluggish Sharath, however, did well to make the Rio Cut at the subsequent Asian Qualifier in Hong Kong last month.

"The last couple of months have been really productive for me. It has given me huge confidence going into my second Olympics. I was almost clueless in London four years ago but it is not like that. Now I feel that I belong at the highest level," the 65th-ranked Ghosh told PTI from Falkenberg, Sweden where he plays at club level.

The Siliguri-born paddler attributes his vast improvement to a change in tactics, something that helped him in the Olympic qualification and Asian Cup where he beat world no.14 Jung Youngsik of Korea on way to finishing seventh in the competition.

"I have worked a lot on my serve and after trying for a long time, I have started to reap benefits of standing closer to the table, much like how the Chinese play. Besides, my fitness has also improved considerably. Thanks to the government back home, I also have my physio here in Sweden. It has made a big difference," said the diminutive player, who was once criticised for being on the chubbier side.

Ghosh has carefully planned his schedule ahead of the Rio Games and will be only competing in the Slovenia Open before the big multisporting event in August.

"I did not want to play in a lot of events before Rio. I will continue to train hard in Sweden with Peter Karlsson (coach)."

Asked to reflect on his first Olympics four years ago, Ghosh said he is a different player now.

"I was overawed by the occasion to be honest. I stayed aloof most of the time. But things are a lot different now. I am a much improved player, a lot of players on the circuit have taken note of me. All of this gives me confidence going into Rio," he added.
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