Indian veteran table tennis player Sharath Kamal is yet again left stranded with uncertainty for the second time in two years. With the rising COVID-19 cases in India, there are no plans of travelling abroad to training camps. Several countries have closed their borders and are not allowing travellers from India. So that has been a cause of concern for Sharath Kamal.
He is currently in Chennai where he has also called his Mixed Doubles partner Manika Batra to join as they train together for the upcoming Olympics.
Despite all the uncertainties he feels that this is the most confident he has ever felt before an Olympics.
“My ranking does the talking for that,” says the World No.32 during a SAI-organised press conference. “This is the best ranking I’ve had going into an Olympics. In 2004 I was just entering the international field. In 2008 I first broke into the top 100. In 2016, I was just coming back from an injury and even the qualifying stage took a toll on my body.”
The 38-year-old paddler has been building that momentum for years since the Bronze medal win at the Asian Games in 2018.
He led the men’s team to a bronze medal as India defeated a strong Japanese contingent along the way. He repeated the feat a day later when he was paired up with Manika Batra in the Mixed doubles. They clinched the bronze medal and defeated the South Korean world no. 5 pairs of Sangsu Lee and Jihee Jeon.
Sharath Kamal admits that the bronze medals have motivated them and have also boosted their confidence that they can do it at the biggest stage.
“The main reason (for the confidence) is the medal we won at the Asian Games, where Manika and I were paired up for the first time,” added the 38-year-old paddler who is supported by TOPS.
“We started to believe that if we can do it at the Asian Games, it can happen at the Olympics too. That is because Asia is the powerhouse of table tennis. The best teams are from here – China, Japan, South Korea. And then there are the subsidiaries of China – Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Singapore. When you can medal at the Asian Games, you have that confidence, ” he continued.
The Indian pair recently earned their qualification in Doha by winning the event and that once again proves that the Mixed doubles event is India’s best chance to win a medal in table tennis.