Achanta Sharath Kamal is gearing up for his fourth appearance at the Olympics. Despite nearing 40, Sharath Kamal feels that he is at the peak of his powers heading into the Tokyo Olympics.
While he is looking to make a mark at the Summer Games, he is also considering his future. The 39-year-old paddler will feature in the Singles and Mixed table tennis events at the Olympics. The paddler’s earlier decision was to draw a line at the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games citing family reasons. However now he can’t rule out the 2024 Paris Olympics and feels that just like German paddler Timo Boll he can also continue in his 40s.
“According to my wife, this is my last Olympics (laughs), but let’s see how the body holds up till the CWG and Asian Games next year. I feel I am at the peak of my game physically as well as mentally,” Sharath Kamal told the Press Trust of India, 2 days before his departure to Tokyo.
Sharath Kamal has made his Olympics debut in Greece back in 2004. He has not missed a single Summer Games barring the 2012 London Olympics. He feels that every time he has been to the Summer Games he has returned with something precious to improve his game.
“I remember Athens 2004, I didn’t know how to prepare at all. 2008 Beijing I slowly understood what was required at that level and in 2016 I prepared really well but didn’t get the results. Unfortunately, I was also coming from an injury (hip).
“This time I feel I have gotten better as a player and my rankings reflect that. In 2016, my game was at a level where I could not play the round of 16 or the quarterfinals in the Olympics. But now on a good day, I can do that.”
Sharath Kamal’s best shot at an Olympic medal this time is at the Mixed Doubles where he will partner Manika Batra. The Indian pairing will look to win three games at least to secure a medal. But it will be a very difficult task for the Indians.
“We should get four-five days in Japan together and hopefully we would be fully ready. We have been studying our opponents all this while instead of going straight into the match and figuring it out.
“It is going to be very difficult (even in mixed doubles). Even the first round will be tough since we will be playing a top-8 team,” Sharath Kamal concluded.