India has improved significantly as a table tennis nation in the last decade, Commonwealth TT chairman Alan Ransome said on Wednesday.

Besides being one of the top teams at the Commonwealth level, India has hosted major international events in the last 10 years.

World Junior Championships were a success in Hyderabad last year, and India is hosting the ongoing Commonwealth Championships here after the 2005 edition in Jaipur.

“India has improved a lot in the last 10 years. You have a bigger pool of players to choose from. Even the women are in contention for medals. It was not the case earlier,” Mr. Ransome, at the helm of Commonwealth TT Federation since 1993, told IANS. He said: “As a host nation too, it is getting better with every big event. The world juniors were really successful and the government of India can now even bid for the World Championships. The infrastructure is very much in place. If you look at it, the 2010 Delhi Games were much bigger than the World Championships.”

India has not hosted the World Championships since 1987 in New Delhi.

The Commonwealth Championships, introduced in 1971, have seen its popularity falling off late. The biennial was not held in 2011. Most countries prefer participating in Commonwealth Games than in the TT championships.

Ransome disagrees with that notion. “The Commonwealth Games is only second in the world to the Olympics. The countries are ready to support the Games. Since this tournament requires the federations to do the funding themselves, it becomes tough for the smaller countries to send their athletes. But if you look at the other side, the standard at the top and at the Games is more or less the same. All medal contenders are here. Even for the smaller teams, they get the right kind of exposure rather than getting hammered at the Worlds,” said the former England international.

On member countries criticising the timing of the event, Mr. Ransome said: “There are different ways of looking at the timing. The original idea behind the tournament was to serve as a warm-up for the worlds. It happened in 1971 on way to the Japan worlds. Not many events used to take place at that time.”

“As of now there are more competitions around the world and taking part in the tournament becomes tougher. But players, who know they don’t have the chance of winning medals at worlds, treat this as priority. It can work both ways,” he added.

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