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Manika Batra did not have a coach by her side when she needed the most
As Manika Batra's journey at the Tokyo Olympics ended in Round 3, the coach factor kept on coming up every time she was focussed.
Paddler Manika Batra's dream journey at the Tokyo Olympics felt short on Monday as she was crushed in straight sets by world no. 17 Austrian Sofia Polcanova in straight sets by 0-4.
Batra, who had a historic run at the Tokyo Olympic Games being the first Indian paddler to reach Round 3 of the games, was jolted 8-11, 2-11, 5-11, 7-11 in a matter of 27 minutes.
More than the match itself, what caught the viewer's attention was the fact the Batra was playing without a coach by her side.
For the third time in a row, on every occasion Batra came down to play her women's singles encounters in Tokyo, she was seen not taking the help of Indian national table tennis coach Soumyadeep Roy during the match.
Batra had a smooth sail in Round 1 against 94th-ranked Tin-Tin Ho of Britain, where she won 4-0. In Round 2, the New Delhi girl scripted a wonderful comeback after trailing 0-2 to clinch the victory against Ukraine's Margaryta Pesotska by 4-3.
It was a sight to watch Batra at each break, motivating herself and going strong in the two matches she won. Today, however, it looked as if she needed some guidance. The Austrian took command and forced Batra to cause a flurry of errors from her forehand.
The Indian found herself dwindled in between confusing spins served by her opponents and gave away consecutive points. Though her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape went on cheering her up from the stands, it looked she needed stewardship from the close quarters who could have at least guided her during the game.
Roy was otherwise present with every Indian paddler and was constantly churning out tips to his mentees during their matches, be it the veteran Sharath Kamal or the youngster Sutirtha Mukherjee. But Batra's lonely war with Polcanova and her constantly motivating coach felt somewhat intimidating for her.
Batra was playing her natural game and didn't look like she was out of grip. However, signs of frustration kept showing on her face every time she looked at her coach Paranjape at the gallery. Perhaps, it was the frustration of being outplayed by the Austrian in every round.
Manika Batra had put forth a special request to allow her coach at her Games, but the organisers rejected it. She instead chose to play in the Games with neither national coach Roy nor personal coach Paranjape on the sidelines to guide her on.