The city played a perfect host to 600 and odd paddlers vying to clinch the 75th National Table Tennis Championship title at Patliputra Sports Complex.
The sports complex, inaugurated in March 2012, till a few months back was in a poor shape with several inadequacies on the infrastructure front being reported. However, Tuesday was different.
Ready with electronic scoreboard, floodlight arrangements for around 10 simultaneous matches, refreshment kiosks and lunch facilities, the sports complex offered the top national paddlers, including Achanta Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh, K. Shamini, Mouma Das, Poulomi Ghatak, Neha Aggrawal among others, the ambience required to excel.
For accommodation of players, the Bihar Table Tennis Federation (BTTF) has reserved 15 hotels in the city and some players have been provided accommodation at the Patliputra Sports Complex hostel. Vehicles have been arranged for players for pick-and-drop from hotels to the sports complex.
Ghatak, an Arjuna Awardee representing the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), was well impressed with the facilities at Patliputra Sports Complex. “It’s a good indoor stadium for national-level players.”
Keeping in mind the interest of players from different parts of the country, separate arrangements have been made for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. For non-vegetarian paddlers, a sumptuous spread of chicken and fish will be provided, while vegetarian dish includes recipe of paneer, seasonal vegetables and local cuisine of litti-chokha. South Indian items are also expected to fill up their platter.
For the paddlers, the six-day tournament is important as the Table Tennis Federation of India will select players and teams which will participate at Glasgow Commonwealth Games (July 23-August 3) and 17th Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea (September 19-October 4).
Bihar is represented by Naman Kumar, Piyush Gandhi, Kishan Raj and Yash Trivedi (men’s team), and Suparna Joshi, Priya Kumari and Chanda Rawat (women’s team). Apart from them, more than 20 players are taking part in individual events.
However, it was a bad day for Bihar and Jharkhand on Tuesday. Bihar lost to Delhi 3-0 in the women’s category, while the PSPB defeated Jharkhand 3-0 in the same segment.
Mukesh Rai, the BTTF general secretary, said: “It would be a great event, as many players who have won national and international tournaments are going to participate in it.”
Rai added that the men and women teams have been divided into eight groups with the team championship being played in round-robin league and knockout format. He said: “The national team comprising five-member squads in men and women categories will be selected on the concluding day of the event for the Commonwealth Games and the Asiad.”
For enthusiasts, who want to catch the stars in action, the individual events will start on Thursday. Ace paddler Kamal, likely to participate in the tournament, became the first Indian to qualify for the World Table Tennis Tournament last year. Ghosh, another national table tennis champion who beat Kamal last year, will also participate in the tournament. K. Shamini, who led the Indian women’s team, which won silver in the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, is also going to participate in the tournament, which has total of Rs 9.5 lakh cash prize.