Kolkata: India's top-ranked paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran feels the next aim is to get into the top-four in the world and win an Olympic medal, after the men's table tennis team attained a new highest-ever world ranking by climbing to eighth in the latest rankings released by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) on Tuesday.
"As a team, we want to get into the top 4 and win an Olympic medal," Sathiyan told IANS.
"All of us are doing well and this is a really good time for Indian table tennis. I feel we have the best chance of making it to the Olympics this time," said the 30th ranked player.
India have never qualified as a team for the Olympics. The first world team qualification for the Olympics is in January next year.
The team's previous ranking of ninth that came out last month was their highest ever in the men's team category.
Now, Sathiyan's exploits at the World Table Tennis Cup has helped them better that.
Sathiyan beat the higher-ranked Simon Gauzy of France and Jonathan Groth at the World Cup in Chengdu, China. He subsequently lost to German world no.1 Timo Boll in his first knockout match. Apart from Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai's win at the ITTF Challenge Indonesia Open TT championship has also helped India's cause.
"It was a really good tournament for me. I beat higher-ranked players. I will play some German League matches now before the big Olympic qualifiers. We are raring to go as a unit," he said.
Indian table tennis has been on an upward curve over the past two years. The men's team, featuring the likes of Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, bronze at the Asian Games in the same year and gold at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in September. They were placed 13th in the rankings last year. India's previous ranking of ninth that came out last month was India's highest ever in the men's team category.