By Susil Premalal
The World Table Tennis Championship has been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic but the Table Tennis Association of Sri Lanka (TTASL) is planning to send a 10-member team for the event whenever it is eventually held.
There is a possibility of the championship being held in September according to discussions going on between the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and host country South Korea.
Sri Lanka were scheduled to participate in four international table tennis competitions going by the 2020 calendar with the World Table Tennis Championship which was scheduled to be held in Busan, South Korea from March 22 to 29 being the premier event, TTASL general secretary ChandanaSrinath told the ‘Daily Mirror’.
The participation for the World Championship which attracts 72 countries is based on world rankings and significantly the Sri Lanka women’s table tennis team have gained qualification. The Sri Lanka men’s table tennis team have not gained direct qualification but have secured entry because of the non-participation of some teams.
The Sri Lanka women’s team led by IsharaMadurangi comprises BimandiBandara, ErandiWarusavithana, HansaniPiyumila and JitharaWarnakulasuriya. ChamaraGinige (captain), Senura Silva, Nirmala Jayasinghe, MilinthaLakshitha and Rohan Sirisena will form the Sri Lanka men’s team.
The Asian Olympic qualifying tournament (Thailand), South Asian Junior Championship (Bangladesh) and South Asian Senior Championship (Pakistan) are the other major international tournaments scheduled to be held this year. Whenever it is announced that these tournaments are going to be held, Sri Lanka will definitely participate by conducting selection trials for each event, according to the TTASL official.
The association is unable to conduct any tournaments in the country as scheduled this year, among them are four ranking tournaments and the Nationals, according to the TTASL general secretary.
“Even if the coronavirus epidemic eases, the next issue will be the G.C.E. (A/L) and G.C.E. (O/L) examinations to be held in August and December,” he said.
Meanwhile the TTASL has made arrangements for players and coaches to participate in an international seminar during the lockdown period. The programme which is run for over six weeks is conducted by world renowned coach from Malta Mario Gevonese. There are 34 coaches and 42 players from Sri Lanka registered to participate in this seminar.
Although Sri Lanka have managed to win a gold medal in table tennis at the South Asian Games (SAG), ChandanaSrinath said “our target is to win a gold medal in the women’s doubles event the next SAG” adding however, that it will be a tough task to win a gold medal competing against India.
At the last SAG in Kathmandu, Sri Lanka were able to win one silver and six bronze medals.
“Since Sri Lanka’s leading table tennis players need training abroad in countries like China or South Korea, the association plans to send them for short programmes in future,” the TTASL general secretary said.