Gurugram: Young players, Avni Dua and Krishiv Garg performed exceptionally well in the World Table Tennis (WTT) Youth Contender Tournament in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and stole all the spotlight. In the tournament, 9-year-old Avni won a gold medal and Krishiv reached the quarterfinals and finished 5th. These young talents look promising and are ready to create records in their fields. 

Progressive Table Tennis Academy

Avni and Krishiv received training from Progressive Table Tennis Academy (PTTA) under the coach Kunal Kumar. The academy proudly shared in their Instagram post that Avni Dua won the gold medal in the Under-11 girls category and Krishiv Gard reached the quarter finals in the Under-11 boys category. These young kids have not only made their academy proud but have achieved a great feat to receive appreciation from every Indian. 

Under-11 girls category

According to the coach, Kunal Kumar, Avni is ranked 10th in India and first in Haryana in the Under-11 girls category. In the Under-13 girls category, she is ranked second in Haryana. 

Under-11 boys category

Kunal further shares that Krishiv is ranked number 3 in India and first in Haryana in the Under-11 category. In the tournament held in Kazakhstan, Krishiv led the match by a significant margin of 10-4. He was performing extraordinarily well until the pressure of the tournament affected his progress. In the last few moments, he lost his momentum and faced defeat in the quarter finals. But this is not a matter of disappointment. This is only the beginning of his career, and he is bound to shine in his future games. 

A packed schedule

Avni and Krishiv work extremely hard. They are supported by their parents and the school authorities as well. These kids wake up at 6 in the morning and start with their training. After practicing for 2 to 3 hours, they leave for school. They come back from school at 5 in the evening and immediately depart for the academy and get trained till 8 pm. After a hard day of work, they go back home and continue their studies. Every Thursday is off and league matches are held on Sundays. 

Free admission in the school

The tennis academy and Pragyanam School (where the kids study) have an agreement where the school admits the top 16 international players and medal winners with no fees. A fully funded scholarship is provided to them that covers their tuition fees, books and uniforms.  

Balancing between sports and education

According to Kunal, table tennis does not enjoy the same privileges as cricket in this country. Their tennis academy accommodates over 150 children, where they strive to identify and support talented individuals with necessary resources and facilities. Despite everything making a balance between studies and training is quite a momentous task. 

However, the agreement between the schools and the academies allows children to train for their respective sports with dedication. Thanks to the Indian government’s initiatives such as Khelo India and SAI’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), several Indian players are now gaining recognition on the global stage. 

Table Tennis included in top 10 sports

Kunal shares the concerns of the parents who worry about their children’s futures. He assures them by mentioning examples of great players that represent their country proudly on the international stage. Kunal talks about Manika Batra’s remarkable success, who won the gold in the Commonwealth Games. Solely because of her contribution, table tennis is now counted in India’s top 10 sports. 

Through the recent establishment of the organization Ultimate Table Tennis, this sports has gained much recognition. Kunal believes that there are career options apart from just pursuing UPSC. A thousand avenues open when a child is given the chance of shining their true talent. 

Sports as a career

Kunal Kumar further shares that if a person is looking to secure a stable job, then sports is not the right path for them. Sports is a dynamic career choice and requires utmost dedication and self-motivation. It is not a conventional path that offers constant stability, one must be able to adapt to the changes in the field of sports. 

23 years of hard work paying off

Indian table tennis player, Manika Batra started with her training at the age of 3. All these years she remained committed to her goals and finally won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games at the age of 26. Years of perseverance and dedication went into her training to become a successful international player.

While emphasizing the importance of training, Kunal acknowledges the limitations in resources for parents. In India, it is difficult to receive sponsorship when one is under training. Young players only attract sponsors once they attain stardom. If sufficient resources are provided at an early stage, the quality training will become more accessible for players. 

International tournaments

Kunal shares that the expenses of up to Rs 1 to 1.5 lakh are made for participating in international tournaments in countries like Bangkok, Jordan, Dubai etc. There are additional expenses for the coach as well. This financial burden often poses a significant challenge for the parents. 

Unfortunately, if young players cannot participate in these tournaments, they miss valuable opportunities to showcase their skills on the international stage. For this particular reason, the sponsors must provide financial help to the players earlier in their career. 

2028 and 2032 Olympics

At present, Avni and Krishiv are training hard to become better international players. They aspire to represent India in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles and 2032 Olympics in Brisbane. The journey ahead is challenging but definitely not impossible. Their passion for sports drives them to pursue their dreams relentlessly. 

Dreams of the parents and the coach

Kunal Kumar hopes to train his students for competing in the 2028 Olympics. He firmly believes that if players from countries like China, France and Japan can make it to the world’s top 50 rankings, there is no reason why Indian players can’t achieve the same. Kunal has a vision for Avni and Krishiv and believes that they will bag medals for their country in the future Olympic games. These talented youngsters serve as an inspiration not only for themselves but for aspiring talents across the nation.