At 38, Indian table tennis star Mouma Das still packs a punch


At 38, Mouma Das insists that she has no goals to pursue or specific ambitions to achieve but that she wants to enjoy the sport she loves the most. But even though the five-time national champion only plays table tennis for fun, she can teach youngsters some lessons on how to win matches.

That’s exactly what Mouma did when she saved two match points before beating 19-year-old Diya Chitale of Maharashtra in five sets to secure victory for West Bengal in the women’s team final of table tennis at the 36th National Games on Wednesday.

It was a vital victory in the third singles encounter of the title clash as the two teams were tied at 1-1.

“Honestly, I’m just enjoying playing again so I can play freely without pressure. I just focused on keeping the ball on the table and she was under pressure because it was expected that she wins,” said Mouma, who is playing in her third tournament since returning to competition after a maternity break. “It’s a clean slate for me and I’m starting over with nothing to lose,” she joked.

In fact, she reached the final of the very first tournament – ​​the senior national championships in Meghalaya earlier this year – without much expectation as she hadn’t trained enough.

“Before the Nationals, I only played one session in the morning or in the evening because it’s very difficult to play continuously. I’m not as fit anymore physically, so I have to prepare and try harder than my young teammates,” explained the paddler who was part of India’s women’s team that won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and also reached the 2017 world championships.

Yet despite her suspect fitness levels, Mouma was involved in two five-a-side matches in the semi-final and final at the PDDU indoor stadium on Wednesday and was more aggressive than her young opponents in the decider.

“I know how some of these players play and their styles because I’ve faced them before and I use that knowledge against them,” says India’s most capped player at the world championships, both individually and as a team.

Mouma insists her love of the sport and unconditional support from her husband, Kanchan Chakraborty, and family helped her make a successful comeback after a three-year hiatus.

“He’s one of the reasons I was able to make such a strong comeback,” she pointed out, while refusing to mention her husband’s name during the conversation, citing tradition, and the instead wrote.

“Fortunately, I live in a joint family, so my mother-in-law, my mother and everyone else help take care of the baby, and especially my husband always pushes me to play,” she said.

Mouma will compete in the women’s singles and mixed doubles category in the individual events. And while she wants to downplay her chances of winning a medal, her opponents are sure to be wary of her prowess when they face her on the other side of the table.

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