Andhra Pradesh: 200 Table Tennis Players Stranded In Vijayawada Due To Cyclone Michaung

Andhra Pradesh: 200 Table Tennis Players Stranded In Vijayawada Due To Cyclone Michaung

Cyclone Michaung made landfall in Bapatla, a coastal district of Andhra Pradesh, bringing heavy rainfall in Vijayawada, about 80km away, where the National Ranking TT tournament concluded on Monday.

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, December 05, 2023, 07:16 PM IST
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Securing her maiden Under-11 National Ranking title in Vijayawada brought joy and pain in equal measure for young Bengal paddler Sreosree Chakraborty, who is now stuck along with 300 others because of Cyclone Michaung, which has wreaked havoc on India's east coast.

Cyclone Michaung made landfall in Bapatla, a coastal district of Andhra Pradesh, bringing heavy rainfall in Vijayawada, about 80km away, where the National Ranking TT tournament concluded on Monday.

A Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) official told PTI on Tuesday that there are about 200 players in the age group of U-11 to U-19 stuck along with their family members.

Athletes running against time to reach Panchkula

The Vijayawada National Ranking event was the penultimate round of the five zonal tournaments, which will conclude with the Panchkula leg scheduled from December 8.

The players are sweating over whether they would be able to reach Panchkula (Haryana) in time for the competition, given the prevailing situation.

"We are booked on the Tamil Nadu Express to New Delhi from where we will go to Panchkula," Sreosree's father Mrinmoy Chakraborty told PTI from Vijayawada.

"As of now, there's no update from the Railways. The scheduled time (of departure) here is 4am but we doubt the train will start from Chennai tonight," he said.

Ranking points at stake

The paddlers have no option but to wait and watch. Valuable ranking points are at stake in the final leg, which will help them qualify for the all-important National Championships.

"There is waterlogging everywhere and it's been raining incessantly for two-and-a-half days now. It's very difficult to move out. Flights too stand cancelled. Moreover, it's difficult to afford flight tickets," Mrinmoy added.

Their only solace is that they have not been cut off from the outside world as the internet is working smoothly.

"We are able to communicate with others. A few shops were open in the morning and we are managing by eating bread and fruits," he said.

TT tournament ends early due to cyclone threat

The organisers of the UTT National Ranking Championships (South Zone) had to finish the tournament a day early because of the cyclone.

There were non-stop matches and the prize distribution ceremony got over around 2am on Monday.

"Our flights are cancelled. We have to wait till tomorrow and hope the situation improves," junior India coach Abhijit Roychowdhury said.

There were some like player-turned-coach Poulami Ghatak who managed to leave early in the morning.

"Fortunately, we got hold of my friend's car and we left early in the morning for Hyderabad. There was severe waterlogging and we were fortunate to come out and reach in the afternoon," Poulami, the seven-time national champion, said.

Poulami was there with her academy's trainees.

"I just pray that everyone manages to come out of the place and reach Panchkula in time."

The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is monitoring the situation and the competition department will take a call on whether to postpone the Panchkula tournament after consulting the event organisers, said an official.

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