Indian Men’s and Women’s Table Tennis Teams Secure Historic Qualification for Paris 2024 Olympics

CHENNAI: The Indian men’s and women’s table tennis teams have etched their names in history by securing qualification for the team events at the forthcoming Paris Olympics. Despite falling short at the World Championships, it’s their impressive world rankings that have earned them coveted spots in the Olympics for the very first time.

Currently ranked 15th in the world, the men’s team and 13th in the world, the women’s team have punched their tickets to Paris. A total of 16 teams will compete in each event, marking a significant milestone for Indian table tennis.

Sharath Kamal, a seasoned Olympian who has represented India at four Olympics, expressed his elation at the team’s qualification. “It’s a surreal moment for us, making our debut in the team event at the Olympics. Personally, this achievement holds great significance, marking my final appearance. While I’ve competed in the singles event four times, qualifying in the team event has always been a dream. Over the past two years, our focus has been on securing the team’s qualification, and we’ve finally achieved it,” Sharath told TOI.

Despite failing to qualify directly from the World Table Tennis Team Championships, both Indian teams’ advancement to the pre-quarterfinals proved pivotal. “We knew that reaching the Round of 16 in the World Championships would secure our Olympic qualification. Despite a setback against lower-ranked Poland, we bounced back strongly, defeating Kazakhstan in the Round of 32 and advancing to the pre-quarters,” Sharath explained.

The qualification in team events also carries significant weight as it grants India two direct entries in the men’s and women’s singles categories. “Team qualification has paved the way for two direct entries in the singles events, which will be decided by the federation. My primary focus will be on the team event rather than singles,” Sharath emphasized.

The 42-year-old veteran outlined the preparation plan, stating, “The federation, in collaboration with my inputs, has devised a preparation plan, awaiting approval from the Sports Authority of India (SAI). We anticipate the appointment of a dedicated foreign coach and commence training in April.”