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Table Tennis

"Better prepared to tackle Covid challenges than last year as we eye Olympics medal" - Sharath Kamal

Sharath Kamal expressed his hope of winning a medal this time, especially in Mixed Doubles with Manika Batra

Sharath Kamal Ma Long Table Tennis Tokyo Olympics

Sharath Kamal (Source: PTI)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 28 April 2021 10:28 AM GMT

India's highest-ranked Table Tennis player, the vastly experienced Achanta Sharath Kamal on Wednesday said he is well-prepared ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. He also expressed his hope of winning a medal this time, especially in Mixed Doubles with Manika Batra.

Interacting with the media facilitated through virtual conference by SAI, Sharath said, "Despite the prevailing Covid situation in the country, I am much well prepared this year than the previous year because we have made it to the Olympics and have our goals set. I am in a better situation now to plan ahead."

"Back in 2004, I had a dream of winning an Olympic medal and 17 years later, I am sitting here with the hope it is actually doing to turn into a reality," "The nation's dream of winning a medal in Table Tennis can come true, especially in Mixed Doubles where a medal is just three rounds away," he said.

Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra

He said his confidence was rooted in the 2018 Asian Games medal. "The Asian Games bronze medal that Manika and I won in Jakarta leads me to believe that if we can do it in the Asian Games, we have a fair chance at the Tokyo Olympics as Asia is a powerhouse and the best teams are from the continent. So, when you medal in the Asian Games, you have that confidence that this is going to be the best Olympics in terms of performance and in terms of results."

Speaking about his partnership with Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal said the have had very good sessions in the recent weeks and had worked on some aspects like footwork and coordination, where they complement one other. "We both do really well under pressure even as singles players. When a match gets close, we are both able to raise our levels a notch up," he said.

"The second thing is we have different styles of playing. She is able to slow the game down fantastically well and I am able to speed it up from there. That is where the opponents also are not able to play comfortably against us. So that is how we are trying to build our game," Sharath Kamal said.

When asked about the way forward amid the challenging times, he responded saying, "We are looking forward to having good six-to-seven days of training every month before the Olympics. If the situation turns worse, we will have to find a solution with the federation to work on our goals."

"We have come a very long way since 2004, in 2008 when I went to the Olympic Games with little competitive exposure. Once TOPS came into the picture, it became a lot easier and are able to concentrate on our training as all requirements have been taken care of," he said.

For this Olympic cycle, Sharath Kamal was inducted in Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in December 2018. He has been given financial support of close to Rs 50 lakh, with most of the finances being sanctioned towards the cost for international competitions, fee for support staff, expenditure for equipment and Out of Pocket Allowance (OPA).On July 4, 2019, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS} had sanctioned a budget of Rs 12.13 crore to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) under the Annual Calendar of Training and Competition (ACTC) until September 2020. On April 1 last, in a fresh approval until March 2022, the TTFI was approved a budget of Rs 7.77 crore. Tokyo2020 would be Sharath's fourth Olympic Games but he would compete in two events, Men's Singles and Mixed Doubles, for the first time.

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