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Ping-Pong? Child’s Game. Table Tennis? That’s a 16-Year-Old’s Ticket to Rio.

“I thought it could really help Kanak to be in a situation like we have here,” Andersson said. “To be able to train with and play against top players, international players, every day is something he could not have in America. There are great coaches there, but there is nothing like being in a group. You need competition.”

Jha first visited Halmstad when he was 13. He remembers being awed by the professionalism of the club, one of the most highly regarded in Europe. There was the coaching, sure, led by the former world champion Ulf Carlsson, and the caliber of players was high, too. But the commitment to covering all facets of the sport was what stood out most. Jha had not done much physical training away from the table. At Halmstad, such additional work is viewed as critical.

Jha began visiting the club several times a year and arrived to live here full time — and play for the club in its various leagues and tournaments — last fall. Now, he begins most days with Jakobsen, darting over and around discs and ropes on the floor, and springing to scoop up a small soccer ball that Jakobsen drops at random in front of him.

All of these drills help Jha react faster…

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