For Indian paddlers, the wait to qualify for the Olympics was long and hard given that it was only in March of this year that 4 players secured qualifications. We take a brief look at their individual journeys to the Tokyo Olympics and their achievements in the past few months.
The ace Indian veteran will be taking part in his 4th Olympic games this year. In the Asian Qualifiers, he had lost his initial match up against fellow compatriot Gnasekaran Sathiyan. This would have caused problems had he not won his next match in the groups stages. However he picked up pace and managed to defeat Muhammed Rameez of Pakistan that put him in second place in the group stage. Moreover, his high world ranking at 32 also assured him a place in the Olympics.
The top ranked Indian player eased through to the Olympics with a comfortable win over both Sharath Kamal and Muhammed Rameez in his group stage. By finishing as the table topper he qualified by virtue of his first place position. G Satiyan had earlier missed out on the Rio Olympics but managed to make up for it this year with a strong performance from start to finish.
Despite losing to fellow Indian Sutirtha Mukherjee in her group stage match up, she qualified by virtue of being the highest ranked second placed player in the group stage. Much is expected of Manika Batra at Tokyo this year given that she has done the country proud in the Commonwealth Games with an individual gold medal as well.
The debutant beat Manika Batra 4-2 in her group stage match up. This was an important match for Sutritha given that she had no other means of qualification as her ranking was also lower down the order. She has made a stellar comeback ever since her ban from the sport in 2016. Her experience at the Nationals and the leap in her rank from 502 to the top 100 has been fantastic.
These 4 paddlers have looked promising over the past few months in their international qualifier rounds. No other Indians will qualify this year and all 4 of them will take part in 3 separate events. Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan will be in the men's singles. Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee will be competing in the women's singles event. The mixed doubles will have Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra taking part.