Kolkata, June 26 (IANS) Rio is calling and ace table tennis player Mouma Das is ready for the Olympics. She’s all set to give her best to win that coveted medal at the greatest show on Earth.
Mouma said that even though she won’t be consumed by the thought of winning a medal, every effort will be made to reach the podium and make India proud.
“I cannot go there thinking that I have to win a medal. My preparations are on but I do not know what is in store for me,” Mouma told IANS.
Mouma now has a team working with her so that she can churn out the best result at the Olympics in August.
“It is a team effort. My coach Debabrata Chakraborty is supporting me. I am getting guidance from German coach Peter Angel, former coach Jayanta Pushilal and Bhabani Mukherjee. I also have a physical trainer working with me. I am going for ‘pranic’ healing sessions too. Hopefully by the time of the Olympics, I will be at my very best,” she said.
But Mouma sounded a tad wary over the table tennis tournament’s format at the Olympics.
“The format changes every Olympics. Sometimes the tournament is in round robin format, at other times it is in knockout format. In 2004 it was knockout, but when Poulami (Ghatak) played in 2000 it was a group event,” Mouma said.
“I still do not know what it will be this time, but I am well prepared,” she asserted.
Mouma is happy that in India table tennis is moving along an upward trajectory, and she hopes it will remain this way.
“Indian players are doing well in the sport. Be it the individual rankings or the world rankings, we have improved drastically over the last few years,” she said.
“We have four singles players who have qualified for the Olympics. I think it is the first time this has happened,” she said.
Besides Mouma, others who have made it to the Rio Olympics are Soumyajit Ghosh, Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra.
According to Mouma, table tennis will gain more popularity in India if there is a league promoting it.
“The league is in the pipeline. Hopefully it will help promote the game and attract more youngsters,” she added.
Over the years Mouma has proved her mettle in the game. The 32-year-old has bagged 17 medals in Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships and the Commonwealth Games put together.
But her tryst with table tennis began by chance.
“I was a mischievous child and so my parents got me into table tennis. At first I hated remaining locked in a room for hours. But then when the prizes and medals started coming my way, I fell in love with the game,” she said.
For Olympics, Mouma is supported by the Target Olympic Podium scheme of the central ministry of sports and youth affairs.
“I was supposed to go and train in Germany under Peter Angel, but my father was not well. So I could not go there. But I talk to him (Angel) over WhatsApp and Skype,” she said.
Speaking about her practice schedule, Mouma said, “In the morning, I practise from 7.30 am to 10.30 am. In the evening it’s from 6 pm to 9 pm.”
Mouma had participated in the Olympics in 2004. She lost that time, but now this Arjuna award winner is determined to give her best in Rio.
“I was very young in 2004. I was happy that I had reached the Olympics. I lost to a higher-ranked player. But I enjoyed the trip, in the company of some of the best players in the world,” she said.
“But now it is different. I am experienced and I will give my best,” Mouma assured.
(Debdoot Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)