Mumbai: Conceding that the performance of the Indian team in the Rio Olympics table tennis competition was not up to his expectations, former national coach Kamlesh Mehta on Thursday said it does not mean they should not have taken the flight to Brazil.
"Yes, the players themselves know it was a disappointing show. We expected at least two of them (four in all) to enter the second round, but it did not happen," said Mehta on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the launch of a nation-wide inter-schools event on 29 August, the birthday of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand.
"But it cannot be said they should not have taken part (and avoid the humiliation)," added the former eight-time national singles champion and three-time Olympian.
Two men - Achanta Sharath Kamal and Soumyajit Ghosh - and women paddlers Mouma Das and new comer Manika Batra had qualified for the Olympic Games.
However, all of them came a cropper without winning a single match to make a tame exit.
Kamal and Ghosh lost to their respective rivals Adrian Crisan of Romania and Padasak Tanviriyavechakul of Thailand by an identical 1-4 margin while Mouma, in her second Olympics, was blanked 4-0 by Daniela Dodean of Romania.
While 34-year-old Chennai-born Kamal, who bagged the gold in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, took part in his third successive Games, it was the second for the Kolkata-born, 23-year-old Ghosh.
Manika lost 2-4 to Poland's Katarzyna Grzybowska.
Asked about the total domination of China in the ping pong game, Mehta said rules have been changed but they train so hard and so well that they remained on top.
"There have been so many rule changes. But they train very hard and remain as the top table tennis playing country," said Mehta.
As expected, China swept all four titles on offer - men's and women's singles and the two team championships.