Ace Indian paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal feels that Singapore would present a tough challenge to the hosts in Individual and Team events during the Commonwealth Games.

Sharath, who became the first paddler from the country to win a singles title on the IITF Pro Tour, said Indians need to be on top of their game during the multi-sporting event to perform well in front of home crowd.

“We know great expectations are being pinned on us because we are the host and also the defending champions of team individual gold in Table Tennis. Though Chinese would not be here but Chinese origin players would be here from various other teams. For example Singapore has few players who are of Chinese origin and may pose tough challenge for us in Team and Individual events,” Sharath told PTI.

“Other teams like Nigeria and England are also good. We need to work hard to emerge at the top. We need to produce our best in front of our people,” said Sharath, who is in Ajmer for Inter-Institutional Table Tennis tournament.

Indians are gearing up for this month’s China Open and Arjuna Awardee Sharath said the exposure trip will hold them in good stead in this year’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

“Chinese camps will be very useful. We are training hard and even their second string is equally good. So we will definitely gain from the camp.

“It’s not that we are not able to cope with the Chinese players. I have been playing in the European circuit and come across many Chinese players. In fact I beat a Chinese player in the final of the Cairo open. Other Indians who play on pro-tour also are now aware of Chinese tactics. I am there to give tips to the other team mates,” said Sharath, who is currently ranked 74th in the world but would be among Top-50 by the end of this month.

When asked about Table Tennis Federation of India’s (TTFI) decision to hire European coaches like Massimo Constantine from Italy instead of Chinese mentors, Sharath said, “With Chinese coaches there is language problem and moreover they have a closed door policy of not allowing their top coaches for other teams.”

“The Indians have earned more success with European coaches because our style is more akin to Europeans,” he added.

Talking about his recent triumphs, Sharath said it was all because of playing in Europe and hard work.

“I could break the barrier because I played in Europe and worked hard to overcome my short comings. But with government providing all support and TTFI also leaving no stone unturned the future of Indian Table tennis looks bright.”

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