MUSCAT, Dec 10 – In a steady improvement after successfully hosting Arab Table Tennis Championships and International TT tournament, Oman will host its first mega tournament when World Junior Circuit TT league will come to the Sultanate in February 2018.
“As far as hosting big tournaments is concerned, this is a big leap by Oman,” Didier Leroy, Competitions Manager for International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), told Oman Observer in an exclusive interview.
“Oman had moved swiftly and tactfully along with their organising capabilities to ensure the big tournament for the country,” the Belgian official, said.
Leroy, who had taken part in four World Championships as a player, opined that there is nothing better for the upcoming players in Oman than watching these big tournaments and getting a chance to compete against the highly-ranked opponents in the world.
The ITTF official said Oman is strongly considered as a host for the one of the legs of the World Tour senior circuit championship in 2018.
“If that happens, Oman will see the top TT stars in the world in action.”
He appreciated the Sultanate for the arrangements made for the International TT Open now underway at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat.
“The organisers deserve the credit for making good arrangements for the international tournament.”
Leroy said the big events need a long-term preparation and those well-prepared can be readily differentiated from the hastily-arranged ones. Commenting on the international stature of the game, Leroy said TT, an Olympic event since 1988, will get another medal event in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 – the mixed doubles category.
“The mixed doubles will be added to the TT competition from the Tokyo Games. So the value of TT as an Olympic event will rise with another medal in the offing,” Leroy, who was once ranked 58th in the world as a player, said.
He said the Chinese dominance in the sport is now little bit waning with other countries like Japan and Germany also performing creditably in international tournaments. The advance of India as a TT nation is also noteworthy, he added mentioning Achanta Sharath Kamal, a front-line player from India.
Speaking about his home country, Belgium, Leroy said once-dominant Belgium later lost its stranglehold in the game. “Now they are trying to come back and have qualified to the first division among the top 24 in the World TT in Sweden next year. India’s men and women teams are also competing in the first division at the World TT,” he said.
The ITTF is trying to trying to make its events more colourful in order to gain crowd attraction, Leroy said.
“Apart from enhancing the overall ambience by using colourful lights and music.. we have some tournaments having a fun zone and park zone to the advantage of families and children. Some events have prizes for spectators also.”
The busy ITTF official will leave the Sultanate on Monday for Kazakhstan to attend the World Tour Grand Final from December 14 to 17.
The world’s top 16 TT professional players will compete in Kazakh capital of Astana in the Grand Final and the concluding ceremony will include the annual awards gala for 2017.