Indian Table Tennis Player Takes Top Spot in U-18 World Rankings; Indian American Olympian Ranks 3rd

Manav Thakkar becomes first Indian to be No.1 in the Under-18 world table tennis rankings while Indian-origin player Kanak Jha comes at No. 3.


An Indian and an Indian American teenager have emerged among the top three players in the Under-18 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world rankings. Manav Thakkar, 17, has become the first table tennis player from India to take the No.1 spot in the rankings while Indian-origin player Kanak Jha, also 17, has taken the third position. Wang Chuqin from China has been ranked No.2.

“It’s a great feeling and I’m unable to express it in words,” Thakkar, who is now playing at the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals being held at Luxembourg this week, was quoted as saying by the Times of India. The Surat-born player, who rose to the second spot last month, had a total of 6,396 points at the end of January, according to the International Table Tennis Federation.

Jha, on the other hand, achieved a new milestone in January when he occupied the 90th position in the world rankings table. He rose 110 places from the previous month. “I am extremely happy with my new ranking, it’s been my dream since I was very young to be in the top 100 in the world. I think the new system has definitely helped my ranking a lot. This gives me motivation to keep training hard and hopefully keep improving.” Jha was then quoted as saying.

The Indian American player won three gold medals at the 2017 Pan American Junior Championships and also put up a magnificent title-winning display at the 2017 ITTF-Pan American Games.

Jha became the youngest player to represent the United States at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He was the first U.S. athlete who was born in the 2000s to qualify for an Olympic Games. He then became the youngest male table tennis player to occupy a slot at the Olympic Games. “Playing these types of high-pressure matches really gives you a lot of confidence, to know what you are capable of doing, that you can play at a certain level,” Jha had said then.

Thakkar, meanwhile, said he had never thought of becoming No. 1 so soon. “But when I broke into the top five, my confidence grew and I started believing that the top spot was achievable,” he added.

Thakkar became the youngest player to grab the triple crown in state meets –cadet, sub-junior and junior — in 2010. He later became the Under-12 national champion in 2011.

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