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Nitish mum on academy demand

Table Tennis Federation of India president P.C. Chaturvedi on Sunday urged chief minister Nitish Kumar to set up the country’s first table tennis academy in Bihar.

At the concluding function of the 75th Senior National Table Tennis Championship at Patliputra Sports Complex, Chaturvedi said: “Bihar players have the potential but are not getting proper infrastructure to improve their game. As a result, Bihar paddlers are at the bottom of the ladder in any table tennis tournament.”

The federation chief assured the government of providing full technical assistance in running the academy.

To promote the game, fuel companies are running the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board table tennis academy in Ajmer. In other states, too, local clubs contribute towards promoting the game.

“In other states, especially in Bengal, clubs work towards promoting table tennis. The clubs also organise national-level tournaments regularly. But there is no such culture in Bihar,” Chaturvedi said.

Nitish, who on earlier occasions, had announced to set up various academies for promotion of sport in Bihar, this time stayed silent.

He neither gave any assurance nor did he address the sportspersons at the concluding day function.

Sources said that the chief minister was earlier invited for the inaugural function of the six-day tournament but because of his meetings with the 14th Planning Commission members he could not be part of the opening ceremony on January 6. He on Sunday gave away the prizes to the winners.

In a strange situation on the concluding day, a match was stopped for a while when Nitish walked up to the dais. Sanil Shetty of the PSPB was about to serve his championship point against teammate Harmeet Desai in the men’s singles final.

Though the chief minister remained silent on the federation’s academy demand, JD(U) MLC and Bihar Table Tennis Federation president Sanjay Singh said: “Since the demand has been made by the TTFI, I will personally look into the matter and request the chief minister to set up an academy in Bihar.”

During the tournament, there were team as well as individual-level events. The PSPB proved its supremacy with the oil company sports body winning the men and women titles. In the individual event finals, Sanil Shetty and Ankita Das of the PSPB were crowned the national champions.

Since January 7, more than 600 players from 34 teams (male) and 30 teams (women) were vying for the titles. National-level players had participated in the tournament and based on their performance, the TTFI would select players and teams for the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow in Scotland and for the 17th Asian Games Incheon, South Korea. Both the tournaments would be held this year.

On the concluding day, eminent folk singer Pandit Vipin Kumar Mishra and Siddhi Shankar mesmerised the audience with the Sankh Naad.