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'My goal is to perform well in the Olympics': Manika Batra

Manika Batra has set her sights on the Olympic success in Paris, declaring her main goal to perform exceptionally at the upcoming Games.

Manika Batra Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 women

FILE PHOTO: Manika Batra won two matches to help India beat Hungary at the World Table Tennis Team Championships in South Korea in February. 


Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 9 March 2024 8:40 AM GMT

Joy and determination thundered in the voice of Manika Batra as Indian women's and men's teams secured historic qualification to the 2024 Paris Olympics after a little hiccup at the ITTF World Table Tennis Team Championships in Busan last month.

"My goal is to perform well in the Olympics. So, I'm keeping that happiness in my tummy. I'm waiting to go to the Olympics and give my all for my country," Manika gushed in an exclusive interview with The Bridge.

Despite their defeats in the pre-quarterfinal, the Indian teams qualified for the Paris Olympics through the ranking window.

While the men's team was placed 15th on March 4, the women's team was better placed at the 13th spot at the time of qualification. Only 16 countries could make the cut to the Games.

Manika, India's highest-ranked women's singles player at world no. 36, highlighted the team's strong performance at the Asian Championships, emphasizing the unity and spirit that helped the women's team to secure qualification for the first time.

"I think we all played really well in the teams. Our preparation was excellent. Before this World Championships, we had a camp; we stayed together, and we practised together," she stated adding, "Our team spirit was remarkable, with everyone cheering for each player. That's crucial in a team sport."

Manika also reflected on the evolving landscape of table tennis in India, noting significant changes in the sport.

"If you see the mindset, not only of players but also the people who support table tennis, the sport has evolved, and I'm really happy with that," she explained.

Manika, who started playing table tennis at the age of four, is also happy with the way table tennis has been evolving in the country.

"Everything has changed since then, not just for women's table tennis but the overall game. The sport is growing, and we are receiving support from the Sports Authority of India and other entities. The mindset of players is changing towards professionalism, and that's something I'm truly happy about," she said.

Manika, 28, also expressed her eagerness to serve as a guide for younger players entering the world of table tennis. But her ultimate wish is to win a medal at the Olympics.

"I will be happy to be a role model for every young athlete who is joining table tennis," she said warmly. "It's my privilege to guide them and to show them the right path. However, I also want to focus on my own goals, like winning an Olympic medal. But yes, I will be more than happy to support and guide every young athlete coming up in the sport."

With her eyes set on Olympic glory and a heart full of determination, Manika now stands as a beacon of inspiration for the future generation of Indian table tennis players and hope for Indian fans.

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