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TT player’s journey from Kolkata to California yields a gold

Born, bred and trained in Kolkata, Subham Kundu won a gold medal at the 2021 US Open

Barnini Maitra Chakraborty | Published 12.01.22, 02:31 PM
Subham Kundu played in the Indian professional circuit for 15 years

Subham Kundu played in the Indian professional circuit for 15 years

Courtesy: Subham Kundu

When Subham Kundu left his well-settled government job in Kolkata to pursue his passion for table tennis in the U.S., he had no idea how long the road to success would be. Having played for 15 years in the Indian professional circuit, the 32-year-old sought greener pastures as a player and coach. Success came soon in the form of a gold in the U-3800 Doubles event of the U.S. Open in December 2021, validating his reason to shift shores. My Kolkata spoke to him about his journey, his win and his playing days in Kolkata. Excerpts from the conversation…

My Kolkata: Tell us about your experience at the U.S. Open… 

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Subham Kundu: The US Open 2021 was one of the biggest tournaments I have played in so far — with more than 700 participants not only from the USA, but around the world. To win a gold medal in such a prestigious tournament gives me an amazing feeling. I am overjoyed! I won Gold in the U-3800 Doubles event of the U.S. Open on December 19, 2021, with my partner Vishal Sivakumar.

Subham with his doubles partner Vishal Sivakumar at the U.S. Open

Subham with his doubles partner Vishal Sivakumar at the U.S. Open

Courtesy: Subham Kundu

How long were you in Kolkata before moving the U.S.?

I spent most of my life in Kolkata. From my schooling and my table tennis (TT) career to my previous job, all were in Kolkata. I studied in St. Lawrence High School till Class VI. The rest of my schooling was done from Kalidhan Institution. I completed my graduation from Heramba Chandra College (South City). Most of my family members and friends are in Kolkata. I can definitely say that though I live in the States, my heart is there in Kolkata.

Were you interested in TT since childhood? Tell us about your training here in Kolkata.

Yes, I started playing TT when I was 5-years old. I started my training at Baisakhi Sangha Club in Tollygunge, which is just five minutes from my home. Tapan Chandra was my coach. Later, I used to practice at Sports Authority of India, Salt Lake. I used to train seven hours a day with one hour of fitness training.

Subham’s precious gold medal

Subham’s precious gold medal

Courtesy: Subham Kundu

What made you shift from Kolkata to the U.S.?

Since childhood, playing table tennis professionally was my first career preference. I worked for 10 years in the government sector in India before moving to the U.S. I was never fond of the 10-to-6 jobs. I wanted to be with my game throughout my life. In 2018, I got an offer from the India Community Center Table Tennis (based in California) to play for them and to train with the U.S.’ best players. It was a tough decision. On one side was a steady government job and on the other was my passion. Of course, my passion won over and I flew over to the US.

Do you idolise anyone in TT?

Baisakhi Sangha is my club. Since it was near my home, my dad used to take me there often. One day, he asked whether I was interested in the game. I said ‘yes’ and that is how I started going to the club to play. There, I used to watch renowned players like Poulomi Ghatak, Nupur Santra and Indeebar Chatterjee play. I was so fortunate to see closely — to train with them and to interact with them. Pomdi (Poulomi Ghatak) is definitely my idol because I watched her so closely since childhood. I have never seen a person so dedicated. She has always focussed on her goals. I have learnt a lot from her.

Where have you had a better experience — Kolkata or the U.S.?

Well, Kolkata is the place where I grew up. I learned the game and played it there. I used to play a lot of local tournaments in Kolkata and also intra and inter-state tournaments. But, there was always a performance pressure. Now, here in the U.S., there is no such pressure. Now, I just enjoy playing every tournament without any kind of compulsion.

More than 700 participants took part in the U.S. Open 2021

More than 700 participants took part in the U.S. Open 2021

Courtesy: Subham Kundu

Did you want to try for the Olympics and represent India?

Well, every professional player’s dream is to play in the Olympics. Winning a medal is every sportsperson’s dream. But, just like only a few players win medals in the Olympics, similarly, not everyone gets the opportunity to even qualify to participate in the biggest sports event. 

Who has been your biggest support?

My Family. Without my dad, my mom and my sisters’ support, my passion would have been shelved.

Subham would train at Baisakhi Sangha Club in Tollygunge while in Kolkata

Subham would train at Baisakhi Sangha Club in Tollygunge while in Kolkata

Courtesy: Subham Kundu

What do you miss most about Kolkata?

Of course, the food! Especially ‘maayer haater ranna’, sweets and the long adda sessions with friends and family.

Last updated on 12.01.22, 02:31 PM
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