Post the Rio Olympics debacle, the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is hoping for a turnaround with the return of Italian Massimo Costantini, who takes charge as chief coach of the national team next month.
It was first time that four players qualified for the Olympics but all of them came a cropper by losing on day one of the competition.
TTFI secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary confirmed that Costantini is coming back on a one-year contract. The 58-year-old was coach of the US team in the Rio Olympics.
He was with the Indian team from early 2009 till the end of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where he guided India to five medals including a men’s doubles gold and a silver in the women’s team event.
“It was a pretty disappointing performance from our players in Rio. We were never in medal contention but we expected our players to get a couple of confidence boosting wins. They should have won a round or two. With Costantini joining the team next month, the focus is now on the Commonwealth and Asian Games in 2018,” said Choudhary.
The decision to bring back the Italian however was taken before the Rio Games.
All four players — Sharath Kamal, Soumyajit Ghosh, Mouma Das and debutant Manika Batra — lost in the first round on day one of the Summer Games.
The Indian team did not have a foreign coach after Peter Engel’s contract was not renewed at the end of the Asian 2014 Games.
Costantini shares a good rapport with the Indian players, especially veteran Sharath Kamal.
“All the players know him well and have a good understanding with him. That was one of the main reasons we decided to bring him back. However, this time Costantini will focus equally on the junior and youth teams. We have to prepare the next crop of players,” added Choudhary.