When Peter Karlsson speaks, he inspires and fills the surroundings with positive vibes.
The former World doubles champion, European champion and four-time member of Sweden’s World championship winning team, believes that Indian table tennis is heading in the right direction.
Having trained the Indian junior team at his academy before it claimed the historic bronze medal in the 2011 World junior championship in Bahrain in November, Karlsson knows only too well the potential of the current crop of youngsters in the country.
The qualification of Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das to the Olympics has left him very pleased. “It is a good sign that two 19-year-olds have qualified for the Olympics.
“It is better to play your first Olympics when you are still growing than when you are at your best,’ says the 43-year-old who reached the round of last-32 in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
In the city to hold a three-day coaching camp at the “magnificent facility” of the Manav Rachna International School, Karlsson said, “The focus now should be on building the talent pool. You have Ghosh, Harmeet Desai, G. Sathiyan, Sourav Saha already and Abhishek Yadav is looking good.
“Identify another 3-5 more players to follow this group and India will be ready to challenge the stronger nations in time to come. For any nation to improve, it needs knowledge, infrastructure and planning.
“We, in Sweden, have infra-structure but not the kind of numbers you have. You need quality trainers to provide quality coaching.
“The Indian players are hard-working and good listeners. But we have to be very patient.
“It is a very slow process. I am happy that the graph is going progressively higher.”
Emphasising the importance of knowledge to improve the state of Indian table tennis, Karlsson said, “I am here with knowledge and want to share it with Indian coaches.
“If India can have a platform to improve the quality of coaches and coaching in this country, the players will gain immensely.”
Karlsson praised Sharath Kamal even though he failed to qualify for the Olympics.
“Sharath has done more for Indian table tennis than anyone else. He may not have made it to the top-10 of the world but showed to other Indian players that it was possible to reach a high ranking (of 39 in August 2010).”