The Tokyo Olympics was a success for India in several aspects. While Indian ended with their highest ever tally of seven medals, we also saw a lot of improvement in different sports. Starting from golf to fencing India’s variety of participation has only increased with every Summer Games.
Table Tennis was also an eye opener for India in Tokyo. Although none of the paddlers won any medal, it was the fight and improvement that showed progression in the sport in India. Manika Batra and Achanta Sharath Kamal played out of their skins to reach the third round where Sutirtha Mukherjee also tried her level best.
Two time Olympian and eight-time national winner in table tennis, Kamlesh Mehta has claimed that Sharath Kamal’s play has inspired thousands to represent India in table tennis. In an interview with News18, he revealed that it is a long process and success won’t come in a couple of years.
He was happy to see the paddlers fight it out in Tokyo and win tough matches. Therefore he feels that the attitude of only participation has changed. He told News18, “Am sure now with this Tokyo experience, the Indian table tennis players will know what to work on. One good thing that has happened with this Olympics is that Sharath has given belief to the next generation that you can win at the Olympics. Earlier, it was more of participation. Now the attitude of the players has changed. They want to go and win, they want to go and beat some good players.
“Of course winning medals is definitely what everyone looks at, but there is a process. You cannot only think of winning medals. One has to focus on the process. Sharath himself has said that out of his four Olympic participation (2004, 2008, 2016, 2021), this was his best,” Mehta explained.
He feels that Sharath Kamal’s age does not matter at the moment as he is a class apart in table tennis in India and should continue playing till he desires. He feels that Sharath Kamal can inspire young kids to gain more interest in the sport with his path-breaking performances.
Sharath Kamal reached the third round of the Men’s Singles and he faltered against China’s legendary paddler, Ma Long. His opponent eventually went on to win the Gold medal and is largely regarded as the greatest ever. But Sharath Kamal did not go down without a fight and that was commendable according to Kamlesh Mehta.
Analysing the veteran paddler performance at the Tokyo Olympics Mehta said, “Sharath put up an excellent performance. We could see that he has worked a lot on his backhand and his balance on the table. As a result, his recovery was better than normal. Normally, tall people have slow recovery. He was totally focused aggressive. His win against Tiago Apolonia of Germany (in 2nd round), whom he had not beaten in the last 15 years, was fantastic.”