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‘India paddlers earned their berths’


You could see the determination in his eyes. The fact that it was just a practice session didn't matter. The Swede was giving it his all, returning every ball, rallying against youngsters, wowing all. Reputed for his grit and lightning attacks during his playing days, it was evident that Peter Karlsson hadn't lost his touch.


Online searches show the paddler's achievements - two-time Olympian, world champion in doubles in 1991 and European champion in singles in 2000, just to mention a few. Since retiring from professional table tennis in 2006, the 43-year-old has become a reputed coach.


“I wanted to continue with the game when I realised I couldn't give my 100 per cent to playing actively. So, it was a natural transition,” said Karlsson, who was also part of four world championship-winning teams. "For the past five years I've been working as a high performance coach in a club in Sweden," he added.


India's Olympic-bound paddler Saumyajit Ghosh, who trains with him under the Olympic Solidarity programme in Sweden, has constantly praised Karlsson's coaching methods.


“It's great that two 19-year-olds have managed to book Olympic berths," said Karlsson, referring to Ghosh and Ankita Das.


“They deserve their places in the Olympics. Nobody picked them, they've earned the spots. But, it would be unrealistic to expect exceptional results from them in London.”


In the city for a three-day training programme at the Manav Rachna coaching clinic, Karlsson, who was inducted into the table tennis Hall of Fame in 2003, believes that while London would help the duo gain experience, it would only be in 2020 that they would shine. 

“That is when Ghosh would be at his peak," he explained.  


Not about money


Part of Peace and Sport, a non-governmental organization based in Monaco, Karlsson has traveled to places such as East Timor and Colombia to launch table tennis programmes. "Everything is not about money. It feels good to give my time to help those in need. It's been a wonderful experience so far," said the coach, before rushing off to get ready for another training session.


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