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Gujarat men’s TT team eyes gold as curtain goes up on 36th National Games

The much-awaited 36th National Games will get under way here on Tuesday, with the crème de la crème of India’s table tennis stepping into the spotlight well before the grand Opening Ceremony on September 29.Hosts Gujarat have left no stone unturned to not only offer the best Games ever to the country but are also […]

The much-awaited 36th National Games will get under way here on Tuesday, with the crème de la crème of India’s table tennis stepping into the spotlight well before the grand Opening Ceremony on September 29.
Hosts Gujarat have left no stone unturned to not only offer the best Games ever to the country but are also hoping to pick up the first gold medal on Wednesday, with the dynamic duo of Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar leading the charge.
“Gujarat is already a big force in Indian table tennis,” one of India’s all-time TT greats Kamlesh Mehta said. “With Harmeet, Manav and Manush Shah in their ranks, they are favourites to win the men’s title,” he added.
Mega TT stars Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan and Manika Batra are among the favourites for the singles and doubles titles which are expected to throw up fascinating battles. Table tennis crazy Surat is expected to turn out in huge numbers to watch their heroes in action.
Players who are part of the Indian contingent for the World Championships later in the month will hope to get into their groove over the next five days. Indeed, the Gujarat Government has scheduled the TT competition ahead of the official start of the Games to ensure that they participate here as well as in the World Championships in China.
Apart from picking up the first few medals in TT, Gujarat will be hoping to improve on the ninth-place finish in the 35th edition in Kerala. They have strong medal prospects in swimming, tennis, volleyball, athletics, triathlon and wrestling.
The State Government has done a fantastic job in preparing the venues for the Games in merely three months. The Indian Olympic Association and the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports saw an opportunity to host the Games in this tiny window once the 2022 Asian Games got postponed.
“In the past, the States had several years to prepare for the Games. But Gujarat has undertaken the task of hosting these Games in a time window of three months thanks to the infrastructure built over the years,” Gujarat Sports Minister Harsh Sanghvi said while addressing students of the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University recently.
Quite naturally, Gujarat’s top stars are equally excited to get a chance to compete in front of the home crowd and are confident of a strong showing. Swimmer Maana Patel, who bagged three Gold at the 2015 National Games at the age of 14, is excited that she would get to compete in her own backyard and win more medals for the State. “Being a Gujarati, it’s a moment of pride that my State is hosting the 36th National Games this time,” she said.

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