My goal is to represent India in at the Olympics one day and win the gold medal - Swastika Ghosh, Table Tennis player
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Few sports are as fast and intense as table tennis. Not only does it require immense concentration, fast reflexes and impeccable technique, it's also a sport where both physical and mental toughness are considered equally important.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, we speak to rising table tennis star Swastika Ghosh who recently finished runners up alongside Diya Chitale at the WTT Youth Star Contender about her journey so far, winning medals, training during the lockdown, support from the governments, players she idolized, hobbies and goals for the future!
Q 1) When did you start playing table tennis and how influential of a figure has your father been in your journey so far?
I started playing table tennis when I was three and a half years old at Apeejay school where my father was working as a sports teacher and a table tennis coach. My father, Sandip Ghosh, has played the most important role in my journey so far. He is my personal coach, practice partner and my father, without him I would not have been a table tennis player, ranked 4th in the world at the Under 19 category and won medals. I’m very thankful to him for his guidance, not just as my father but also my coach.
Q 2) You recently won a medal with Diya Chitale at the 2021 WTT Youth Star Contender in the U19 girls doubles category. How proud are you of that achievement?
I feel very proud and happy to have won a medal with Diya Chitale in the Under 19 girls doubles category and a bronze medal at the single’s event. It was the first international tournament that I participated in after 14 months so it was a great feeling.
Q 3) How difficult was it to pursue table tennis during the lockdown?
I did not face many challenges or difficulties during the lockdown because I could continue my training and would maintain my fitness regime from home. Even when I’m in school (Ramsheth Thakur Public School) they provide me with a special air conditioned room so that I can practice harder than before.
Q 4) Do you think Indian table tennis players don’t get the support they need from the Central or State governments in times of need?
Yes it’s true that Indian table tennis players don’t get the support they need from the central or state governments. They only send us for 2 or 3 international tournaments, especially for junior table tennis players. They should send us for more tournaments throughout the year so that we can compete and improve. I also think that they should send table tennis players abroad not just for tournaments but for training as well. Besides the senior players, the government should include junior players in their TOPS Scheme.
Q 5) Who are the table tennis players that you idolize? What about them do you like so much?
The table tennis player I idolized growing up was Poulomi Ghatak from West Bengal. I love her attacking style of play and she has really inspired me in becoming the player I am today. I admire her a lot!
Q 6) Table tennis is a very physically demanding sport, but how important of a role does mental strength play in the overall result?
Mental strength plays an extremely important role in table tennis. For any aspiring table tennis player who wishes to pursue the sport professionally, they need to be mentally strong to handle the demands of the game. I have teamed up with Ms. Nupur Kaur, a sports psychologist who has played a very important role in helping me become mentally stronger through various activities and meditation practices.
Q 7) How do you spend your time / unwind post tournaments?
My favourite way to unwind and relax is by watching movies. After tournaments, I watch some movies because it’s the perfect pass time. Watching movies and tv are my go-to relaxation remedies and I find it therapeutic.
Q 8) What are your goals and aspirations for the future? How do you plan to achieve them?
My ultimate goal is to win an Olympic medal. I know that to achieve such an accomplishment, the first step is to work very hard and play well at the national and International women’s or senior category. I need to work on my power, strength and speed and while my forehand attack is my strength, my backhand can improve and I need to work on improving that part of my game.