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TT: Soumyajit, Ankita book London berth, heartbreak for Sharath

Delhi,Sports, Sun, 22 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das, booked their London Olympics berths Sunday in the Asian Olympic Qualification Table Tennis Tournament in Hong Kong, but it was heartbreak for top paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal.


For both Ghosh and Ankita, the berths came via the continental quotas, after they topped from the South Asian region. Ghosh defeated Anthony Amal Raj 4-0 (12-10, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7) and Ankita downed K. Shamini 4-3 (8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-13, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8) to clinch the two places for India.


Sharath Kamal, who earlier lost to Wu Chi-Chi of Taipei 9-11, 9-11, 7-11, 11-2, 8-11, had to take on Amal Raj to make progress and meet Ghosh, who had won against Vietnam's Tran Tuan Quynh. But it was Amal Raj who defeated Sharath 4-3 (9-11, 12-10, 11-13, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9, 11-3) to shut out his chances and earn a meeting against Ghosh.


Elated as he was, the 19-year-old Ghosh said it was his dream to appear on the biggest of all stages.


"I have realized my dream today and will prepare well for the Olympics. It was a real tough match against Amal Raj and it could have been anybody's game. I am happy I won it to earn the spot," said the Siliguri boy, who became the first Indian to win the world junior circuit title in 2010.


Ghosh also gave full credit to the ITTF scholarship programme at the Peter Karlsson academy in Sweden and thanked the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) for choosing him as a worthy player.


"My coaches in India as well as my training at the Karlsson Academy for six months has stood me in good stead and I must thank TTFI for selecting me for the scholarship," added the BPCL player, who was part of India team's bronze-winning member at the world junior championships in 2011.


Similarly, the South Asian regional quota place was left open to both Ankita and Shamini after Poulomi Ghatak bowed out of the Qualification tournament early on the second day. Using the opportunity well, Ankita, 19, beat her senior compatriot to join the Indian contingent at London.


Incidentally, Ankita, also became the youngest Indian girl to qualify for Olympics. The Siliguri girl, who entered the quarter-finals of the world junior championships last year at Bahrain, gave credit to national coach Bhawani Mukherjee for giving her the confidence.


"Bhawani Da was always at hand to help in crunch situations. Today's win against Shamini was my finest in a tense situation. I look forward to going to London," said Oil India employee.


In his hour of despair, there were some encouraging words for Sharath from both Bhawani Mukherjee and TTFI general secretary Dhanraj Choudhary. According to them the top Indian pro was unlucky at the Hong Kong meet.


"He had very good chances to finish among top four, but the loss to world No.1 Ma Long did him and the second chance against North Korean Nam who he had beaten earlier in group stages," said Mukherjee.


But Choudhary said that Sharath still had a very good chance of qualifying for the London Games at Doha where Sharath will participate in the World Qualification championships.


"With all top players from Asia having already made the grade at Hong Kong, Sharath's chances are very good at Doha. I am sure, he will definitely qualify for the Olympics to make it a hat-trick of Games," said Choudhary.


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