Singapore’s Chinese TT import a big threat to India

By Bharat Sharma,IANS,

New Delhi : China’s World No 17 Gao Ning has moved to Singapore to grow as a table tennis player as well as to develop his personality. For the moment he is keen on settling scores with Commonwealth Games hosts India, who defeated his adopted country in the 2006 Melbourne Games to win the team gold.

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This time around Singapore looks a much stronger unit than the defending champions.

Gao, migrated to Singapore recently, is the highest ranked player in the tournament. The five-member team also boasts of players like Yang Zi, ranked 67 in the latest International Table Tennis Federation rankings.

In contrast the Indian team has only one top 100 player in Sharath Kamal, ranked 41.

“It will be my first ever Games after shifting to Singapore. It is a great opportunity for me to make the country proud. India have a very strong team, but we are confident of beating them in the tournament,” Gao told IANS.

Asked why he chose playing for Singapore in place of table tennis giants China, Gao said: I wanted exposure, not just in playing career but also in my life.

“The country is home to people from all parts of the world. Besides, I get to play more international tournaments, which was not the case earlier.”

“There is stiff competition in China. I was not part of the national team. Here I am the number one player,” Gao said.

“We will take one match at a time. That is how I have always played. I am not thinking about the medal, I am only thinking about playing to my potential,” he added.

The Singapore men arrived here Tuesday while the five-member women’s team, which is reigning world champion, is currently playing in Dubai.

The men’s team is satisfied with the training facilities on offer at the Yamuna Sports Complex (YSC) as well as the stay in the Games Village.

“We have two practice sessions in a day. One in the morning and the other in the evening. The stay has also been comfortable so far. I particularly like the food served in the dining hall of the Village,” said team member Pang Xue Jie.

Apart from the Indians, he sees teams from England, Australia and Nigeria also as a threat to the dream of winning gold at the Delhi Games.

“India are strong opponents, but others are also good. Sharat Kamal is playing well. I have seen the other Indians also play, they all play aggressive table tennis. It will be tough to make it to the finals,” he said.

The table tennis event starts Oct 4 at the Yamuna Sports Complex.