Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Table Tennis

From strength to strength, Sharath Kamal, 41, is still going strong

Sharath Kamal, even at age 41, shows no sign of slowing down. On Wednesday, he beat world no. 13 Darko Jorgic to reach the third round of Singapore Smash for the first time. He also became India's new no.1 following his win over Jorgic.

From strength to strength, Sharath Kamal, 41, is still going strong

FILE PHOTO: Achanta Sharath Kamal takes India through to the quarterfinals at the Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2023.


Arjun Mylvahanan

Updated: 13 March 2024 12:48 PM GMT

Every sport has its set of timeless wonders who defy logic and operate at the highest levels way past their prime years.

Saurav Ghosal and Rohan Bopanna are two of the prime examples. They have been showing no signs of stopping, and in this illustrious list, one of the most prominent names is that of the evergreen Achanta Sharath Kamal, the 41-year-old table tennis legend.

Drawn against world no.13 Darko Jorgic in the round of 32 in the ongoing Singapore Smash, Sharath Kamal pulled off an upset by defeating the Slovenian 3-1 and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time in this marquee World Table Tennis event. Following this win, Sharath Kamal also ascended to the India no. 1 rank.

After a cagey start to the game where Sharath lost out in the first game, one might have wondered if this would be another one-sided match but Sharath had other ideas.

He sprung into life, went into fifth gear and did not look back. He brought in the heat that was too much for Jorgic who tried his best to defend the flurry of attacks that came his way but was of no use as Sharath took the match by winning the next three games without any trouble.

He mixed caution with aggression in his game. He knew when to attack and when to defend. He remained calm during the long rallies that were a treat to watch for any table tennis fan. Credit to Jorgic as well for his part in the wonderful rallies that we got to witness!

The kind of stroke-play and technical excellence displayed was so eye-catching it could have made anyone a fan of the game and of Sharath himself, especially his forehand topspin shots, widely considered his signature move. Such was the class exhibited by the veteran, arguably the greatest table tennis player to come out of India yet.

Born in Chennai and having taken up the table tennis bat at the tender age of four, Sharath never looked back as he made it his life.

Seven Commonwealth Games golds, two Asian Games medals, four Olympic Games appearances and two ITTF Pro Tour titles later, his hunger remains.

In an interview with Forbes India, Sharath explains how setting short-term goals has helped him stay motivated in his later years.

"Since 2016, I've been able to break down my goals and targets for just the next two years," he remarked.

"When I'm able to make things shorter, I can find the right motivation. If I had a goal four years from now, it would be too far for me to stay motivated," he added.

He also stated the importance of controlling the mind and having a calm mindset. "Since the pandemic, I've also been working with a mental conditioning coach who is helping me to get into a condition to help my performance peak at the right time", he said.

It is always said that the comeback must be stronger than the setback. Sharath made those words bear fruition in what can be considered a comeback of sorts for Sharath himself after going through a lean period where he wasn't able to register victories over top-seeded players, missed out on a podium finish at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou and even slipped 31 ranks to fall out of the top 100 rankings.

But being the champion player and person that he is, he bounced back and has now become India's no.1 after his victory over Jorgic. This should do his confidence a world of good heading into the crucial stage of the year with the marquee event of the year, the 2024 Paris Olympics lining up.

Sharath has set his eyes on the Paris Olympics, and he must be doubly motivated to make it into the Indian men's team that will travel to the French capital later this year. Safe to say all of us are just as eagerly waiting for him to catch the Paris train and not just that, go one step above and make us all proud by excelling there!

Next Story