'Indian paddlers confident of Olympic berth'
Three Indian TT players are already through to the next stage of the final World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha.
New Delhi: With three of the four Indian paddlers already through to the next stage of the final World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha, national table tennis coach Bhawini Muhherji says his wards are "motivated enough" to make it to the Olympics.
"Their sole aim is to qualify for the London Olympics and they are motivated enough to do that," Mukherji told PTI over phone from Qatar.
Indian paddlers were off to a flying start on Thursday with national champion Anthony Amalraj creating an early upset to defeat fifth seeded Emmanuel Lebesson of France in a 4-1 encounter before accounting for Vladislav Sorbalo of Moldova.
Achanta had to struggle a bit to overcome Jan Zibrat of Slovenia in grueling 4-2 match before he drew home the advantage against England's Andrew Baggaley.
In the women's section Poulomi Ghatak was at her best against Oxana Fadeeva, defeating the higher seeded Russian 4-2. The Indian then got better off Noora Al-Abri of Qatar to ensure her entry to the second stage.
India's Kumaresan Shamini, however, lost her opener against Serbia's Gabriela Feher in marathon 3-4 encounter, but the experienced player returned to winning ways against Qatar's Aia Mohamed to be in contention for the next stage.
Shamini will be playing against Joanna Parker of England later on Friday to keep her qualifying hopes alive.
"Achanta, Amalraj and Poulomi are through to the second stage. Shamini has to win one more match, but she is playing good and is confident of making it to the second stage," said Mukherji.
"Poulomi and Shamini just had two hours of practice, and I asked them 'how were they feeling' and both of them said they were 'very relaxed and confident'," he added.
The coach said if the Indians manage to top their respective groups, there was every likelihood that they will get an easier deal in the second stage.
Top nine paddlers in each section will make it to the Olympics.
"So from that point of view it very important to win today's matches. It is also important because if the Indians reach to the quarter-finals they will seal their berth in the Olympics," he said.