Defending champion Gao Ning to skip Commonwealth TT in Delhi

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) Two-time champion Gao Ning of Singapore will not take part in the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships beginning here Sunday.

The World No.14 is among many players who have decided to skip the tournament which precedes the World Championships in Paris starting May 13.

Gao Ning won the men’s singles title in the last edition in Glasgow 2009 and was part of the squad which won the team championship. He achieved a similar feat with Singapore in 2007 when the tournament was organised in Jaipur.

“Players who are not coming here are going straight to Paris. We can’t do much about that. It their personal choice,” Table Tennis Federation of India secretary general Dhanraj Choudhary told IANS.

Gao Ning would have been the highest-ranked male in the competition but now top billing would be given to his 25th-ranked teammate Zhan Jian.

Of the five top-100 players in entry list, four are from Singapore while the other one is local hope Sharath Kamal, who is ranked 70th.

Though Kamal’s career graph has been going downhill since the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he remains India’s best bet for a medal. He is the lone Indian to win the Commonwealth singles title.

The performance of reigning national champion and 19-year-old, Soumyajit Ghosh will also be keenly followed. Overall, 12 Indians will play in different categories.

England’s key players Paul Drinkhall (101) and Liam Pitchford (121) will not be travelling to India.

Singapore, meanwhile, is likely to dominate the women’s category as well. Current Commonwealth Games gold medallist and World No.4 Feng Tianwei will be the star attraction at the event to be staged at Thyagaraj Sports Complex.

The other top-100 players in the entry list are Yu Mengyu (27) and Zhou Yihan (91). 2009 champion Wang Yuegu will not be seen this time around.

National champion Shamini Kumaresan (world-rank 273) will lead the Indian challenge in the company of veteran Mouma Das (231), Madhurika Patkar (317) and Neha Aggarwal (430).

The championships run May 5-10 and will offer medals in team, individual, doubles and mixed doubles.

Fifteen countries have confirmed their participation in the men’s category while one less in women’s. Pakistan has sent entries but their participation is subject to visa clearance.

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