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Ayhika Mukherjee's historic win makes her the new golden girl of Indian table tennis

Ayhika Mukherjees historic win makes her the new golden girl of Indian table tennis

Sohinee Basu

Published: 23 July 2019 4:40 AM GMT
Too many hours have not lapsed since the 21-year-old Ayhika Mukherjee created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the Women's Singles category of the recently concluded 21st edition of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships. The girl from West Bengal has not been able to wipe off the big smile splattering on her face ever since her golden achievement. While India became the host nation for the 7th time and the Jawahar Lal Nehru Indoor Stadium, Cuttack its area of action, the Indian paddlers lapped up to all the home support and produced an all-time best performance!

A clean sweep for India

It was a clean sweep for India with gold medal wins in all categories of the tournament- Team, Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Doubles, Women's Doubles, and Mixed Doubles! However, the limelight rests easily on the girl from Bengal because she became the first Indian woman paddler to win gold here! With people still ruing about the Indian cricket team's semi-final loss at the World Cup and Roger Federer's sore defeat at the Wimbledon finals, Ayhika's historic win and the entire contingent's performance instill hope in volatile times. Teeming with energy and awe-inspiring determination, Ayhika made out time to talk to The Bridge whilst hustling to New Delhi to participate in the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) tournament.
Ayhika after winning the gold at the Commonwealth Championships (Source: Sports Odisha)

Keeping up with consistency

Gripping the table tennis bat when she was all of 6 years, for the first time, Ayhika has traversed a long road to be where she is today. Still reeling from her breathtaking win against Madhurika Patkar in straight games (4-0) in the final, Ayhika gushed, "I feel amazing right now! I was not expecting this, to be honest, but I must admit I was very focussed throughout the tournament." Over the last two years, Ayhika has been producing very consistent performances and a lot of hard work has been put in to claim that elusive gold at the Commonwealth Championships.
Ayhika has maintained her consistence (Source: Sports Odisha)
"The journey has been really great! We won the Teams title and I won the bronze medal in the Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles category too. We were well prepared for this tournament, " she informed with a bubbly energy characteristic of her young age!
For a 21-year-old, Ayhika is surprisingly level-headed and knows how to stay focused on the looming dream ahead. Not getting carried away with the historic gold she won, Ayhika is already letting her mind work on the tournament ahead. Sharing her loyalties among football, lawn tennis, and badminton, Mukherjee is taking the win in her stride. The ardent Liu Shiwen admirer knows she must keep working hard to realize her ultimate goal of playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!
"The preparations for the Olympics are going on very well. I'll work very hard for this," Ayhika mentioned, her voice resounding of firm resolve and belief in her potential.
Mukherjee, who is close friends with another golden girl of Indian table tennis, Manika Batra, knows the road ahead is not easy and there are several hurdles that remain to be crossed. Judging the Indian contingent's performance in this tournament it is safe to say that with this level of proficiency, table tennis is bound to scale new heights. In a month that has seen major letdowns on the sporting arena, Ayhika's entrance into the history books with this gold medal win is like a cherry on top, certifying the glittering future ahead for Indian table tennis.
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