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ICC Table Tennis Center raises $150K to send Bay Area athletes to Rio Olympics



MILPITAS, Calif. (Diya TV) — This year, the Indian Community Center table tennis program — the largest and most successful program in the nation — is sending four Bay Area athletes to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, and on Sunday raised $150,000 in the efforts to get them there.

The ICC Table Tennis Program houses hundreds of players, both children and adults — its Talented Kids Program has produced more Olympians and national champions than any other program in the U.S.

“We are the only center in the US that has produced, trained, and nurtured this much table tennis talent – we have two out of three women going to Rio Olympics from ICC and two of three men going to Rio Olympics that are ICC Alumni — and the top three out of ten national coaches in the country right here,” said Raj Desai, CEO of the India Community Center.

With the support of the community and ICC co-founder Anil Godhwani, the center has grown into a 20,000-square-feet facility, with head coach Massimo Costantini guiding the aforementioned program. Costantini joined the center six years ago.

“Whoever comes to ICC has a guarantee to be assisted by the coaches – at any level. Kids or adults are our customers and we want them to feel that this is a place where they can make things happen,” said Costantini.

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For decades, the sport has been dominated by nations such as China, Korea and Sweden. But Lily Zhang and Jiaqi Zheng are just two of the players who are attempting to capture America’s first medal in the sport.

” (The) U.S. has never medaled in table tennis at least, so if I were able to get that medal, it would absolutely be a dream come true,” said Zhang, who began training at the ICC when she was 12 years old. “ICC has come so far! When I first started we were in a much smaller facility, and now the facility is absolutely incredible and there’s been so many more coaches”

Zheng has been playing table tennis since age 7 back in China, and arrived at the ICC just two years ago.

The center’s director, Rajul Sheth, said that the first 7-8 kids that joined the center years ago all played with the national team.

“Since 2011 we always had our players in the national team – not some, but a lot of them,” Sheth said.

The 2012 national team was entirely composed of ICC table tennis players.

Nilesh Patel, who sits on the advisory board for ICC’s Table Tennis Center, reminisced about the humble beginnings of the center’s existence.

“There used to be one table in the corner where coaches used to come, and 4 early kids. Then it became evenings, extended to weekends, and so forth. It took 4-5 years to get to the scope and size we are now in this center.”

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