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'Paddlers should not have gone for march past'

August 01, 2012 18:12 IST

Indian paddlers were overawed by the enormity of the Olympics, says national coach Bhawani Mukherji, who feels that both Ankita Das and Soumyajit Ghosh should have focussed on their matches rather than wasting crucial time participating in the opening ceremony.

-London Olympics 2012 - Full coverage

"Olympics is a big stage. All top level Indian athletes are there, some of whom you don't have even met before," Mukherji said.

"Ankita was not looking focussed. She was marching happily alongside flag bearer Sushil Kumar while she had her first match next day. Ideally, she should have skipped the opening ceremony and concentrated on her match. They were certainly overawed by the occasion," he said.

Soumyajit Ghosh with Ankita DasHowever, the national coach said Soumyajit was the better of the two participants and he just lost to a better opponent in the second round.

"Ankita had a chance, she should have come up with a better result. She should have at least made it to the main draw. Soumyajit lost to a stronger opponent in the second round. He played well to beat Brazil's Gustavo Tsuboi in the first round, but it was just that the next opponent he met was better than him," Mukherji pointed.

Ankita lost to Spain's Sara Ramirez in her opening match without putting much of a fight, while Soumyajit lost in the second round to South Korea's Kim Hyok Bong after beating higher ranked Gustavo in the first round.

Former national champion Manjit Singh Dua, meanwhile, praised Soumyajit for his efforts and said he was one of the best things to have happened to the Indian table tennis in the recent past.

"Soumyajit is the best upcoming player in the country. He has shown extremely good results in Junior World Championship where India won bronze. Otherwise, also he has won a lot of international events," Dua said.

"In pre-olympic qualification, he defeated Sharath Kamal and the current senior national champion Anthony Amal Raj.

This is a clear cut indication that he deserves to be at the top level and he has proved himself by qualifying for the Olympics.

"He was consistent and played well. He is the youngest player to have represented India in the Olympics. He has just elevated to the senior level, he lacked experience but he is the best bet for India in future," he added.

Meanwhile, former Olympian and national champion Kamlesh Mehta said that the youngsters will only improve with this experience.

"The Olympic exposure, the pressure of performing at the big stage, the kind of training they went through for the Olympics...all this is going to help them in future," Mehta said.

Mehta was particularly all praise for the 19-year-old Soumyajit, who showed tremendous grit at the Olympics.

"Soumyajit certainly played much better than expected. He played extremely well in the first round and was also good in the second round. Though he lost against the North Korean, it was a very good performance by him.

"Ankita has the potential to do better, probably with a bit of more hard work she will be able to compete with the best," he said.

"Olympics is all about the spirit of fighting," Mehta insisted.

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