The youngest American TT player in Tokyo wins two rounds but is knocked out by Sweden’s Anton Kaellberg
Indian American Nikhil Kumar, participating in his first Olympics, won two rounds to advance to the final 48 in the Men’s Singles table tennis event before Swedish pro Anton Kaellberg knocked him out.
Kumar, an eighteen-year-old from San Jose, California, did not have an answer for Kaellberg, who won the Second Round best-of-seven match in four straight games (11-7, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5) on Sunday evening at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Kumar fell behind early in Game One and never seemed to get fully on track, although he did rack up four points in a row in that game to get to 7-8 before Kaellberg pulled away, according to teamusa.org.
Read: Kanak Jha, Nikhil Kumar qualify for US Olympic team (April 22, 2021)
By the third game, it was clear that Kaellberg was in command of his game and control of the match, running off the game’s first six points before Kumar broke through.
In the final game, Kumar grabbed his first lead of the match by taking the first three points (3-0), but Kaellberg never seemed in trouble, as he took six of the final seven points of Game Four to close out the young American.
Although Kumar is now eliminated from the Men’s Singles competition, he will get another shot at Kaellberg and his Swedish teammates when the United States takes on Sweden in the Round of Sixteen for the Team Event in table tennis, which is scheduled for August 1.
Kumar began his Olympics journey on a high being the youngest American TT player in Tokyo. Playing since 2013 Nikhil believes that his age doesn’t make a difference to his performance as he has always played against opponents older than him.
Table tennis is a game of skill and not of age. He says that players younger than him are much stronger and hold the potential to defeat him.
He is the gold medallist from the 2019 Pan American Games and was the bronze medallist at the 2020 ITTF Portugal Open in the Men’s U21 category.