AUSTRALIAN table tennis coach Jens Lang gave a frank assessment of the sport's future to a strong audience at the Mornington Table Tennis Association on Wednesday night.
Lang, who was a Bundeslega player in Germany, said Australia had arguably the best infrastructure in the world but lacked the competition structure to be competitive on the world stage.
He said Australia did not have a history of "high performance" in table tennis with the best players not competing against each other on a regular basis.
The likeable German said it was "unbelievable" there was not a state league operating in Victoria, which would operate by the leading players from each club teaming up and competing against other associations.
"The sport does not have a high-performance history in Australia," Lang said. "Australia has excellent infrastructure - probably the best in the world."
Lang said Australia needed a breakthrough on the international stage for the sport to go to the next level.
He said "heroes and role models" were needed for table tennis to make the jump from a recreational pursuit to a legitimate career path for young sportspeople. "High performance can trigger participation," he said.
The tasks he will be trying to implement as the head coach of Australia was to improve training structures and create more incentive for leading players to keep improving.
Lang will leave for the London Olympics with the Australian team on July 17 with Dingley star Robert Frank, who is a member of the Dandenong Table Tennis Association, figuring prominently in his planning.
The Australian men's team for the Games will be lead by William Henzel and the women team will feature regular international stars Jian Fang Lay and Miao Miao.
Lang was realistic of what to expect from the Australian team at the London games.
"Two golds and one silver," he joked. "Our goals should be to challenge our opponents in the team matches - because we are one of the bottom ranked four teams in the teams event we will probably play against a high seed.
"Our chances are very very small but we need to make them play at their maximum in the teams."
Lang said he was looking forward to being part of his adopted country's Olympic campaign. "It's a once in a lifetime experience and it's very, very exciting and I truly feel honoured to be part of the Australian team and go to the Olympics," he said.