Stan Rayan

KOCHI: Watching table tennis was quite a treat a few decades ago. One still remembers the patient chopping of Olympian G. Jagannath as he coolly returned everything thrown at him and the thrilling duels between the flamboyant V. Chandrasekhar and V. Chandramouli. Hundreds turned up to cheer them.

The crowds are missing from the sport these days and there is a good reason too.

“Players playing these days do not have glamour,” says former National champion V. Chandrasekhar.

“In our days, almost every player had a style of his own, like Jagannath who relied purely on defence. And every player had his own set of supporters. That’s missing today.”

Commonwealth Games champion Sharath Kamal is the only exception, says the former World Cupper. “He comes on television, has been featured nicely in the newspapers. But where are the others?

“It’s time we have about 15 to 18 players who are well known in the circuit,” says Chandrasekhar who is in Kochi as a leading guest at the OSEL National ranking tournament.

“Now, despite the increase in ball size, rallies have become short because players use speed glue.” But long rallies could be back and with it, probably the crowds.

“The speed glue is likely to be banned (by the world body ITTF) next year which should make rallies longer as the power on the ball would be lesser,” said the 50-year-old Chandrasekhar who was forced to quit the game a little more than two decades ago, when he was at his peak, after a surgery which went awfully wrong.

It affected his vision and mobility in a big way.

Chandrasekhar, who runs a popular coaching centre in Chennai, plans to do stem cell transplant in a Chennai hospital by the end of this year in the hope that it would improve his condition.

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