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Paddler Manika Batra’s fights expose TTFI, but it remains a family business – The New Indian Express

Paddler Manika Batra’s fights expose TTFI, but it remains a family business – The New Indian Express


Through IANS

NEW DELHI: Indian star table tennis player Manika Batra, who had a rough year last year both on and off the court, is slowing down but is steadily finding her mojo again, which bodes well for Indian sport.

Leaving the 2022 Commonwealth Games behind, Manika has performed well in the past few tournaments and looks set for a fantastic season ahead. On Tuesday, she reached her best 33rd position in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Women’s Singles World Ranking after her brilliant semi-final at the WTT Contender Doha.

Before that, the 27-year-old won a historic bronze medal for India at the Asian Cup in Bangkok in November. However, prior to this amazing show, Manika had a really rough last year, making the semi-finals of just one event and the quarter-finals of two tournaments, including the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Start of the tough time

It all started in the Olympic Games where Manika caused a sensation as a player when she became the first Indian player to reach the third round at Tokyo 2020. However, soon after, the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) decided to issue a show-cause message to her for refusing coach Soumyadeep Roy’s help for her singles matches in Tokyo.

After her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape was denied field of play access (FOP) at the venue of the Games, Manika rejected the prospect of Roy being present in her corner for singles matches. She played all her singles matches without a coach by her side and lost in the third round. However, for her mixed doubles match with Sharath Kamal, Roy was present.

In general, athletes avoid getting involved in off-field controversies, especially during the peak of their careers. But that was not the case for Manika, who was involved in a battle with TTFI right after the Tokyo Olympics.

She said she was “subjected to undue pressure and abuse”, which left her in “extreme mental anguish”. Manika went to Delhi High Court against TTFI in September.

After several months, the court finally ruled in favor of the athlete. The star sailor won the case, but all the off-field controversies didn’t help her prepare for CWG 2022.

Batra on CWG 2022

After winning women’s team gold, mixed doubles bronze with G. Sathiyan and India’s first-ever women’s table tennis singles gold at the 2018 CWG in Gold Coast, Manika reached Birmingham as a serious gold medal contender, but the paddler did not survive. lived up to expectations, losing all four events she entered in the quarterfinals.

There could be multiple reasons for Batra’s regular outing at CWG 2022. But the biggest reason at the time seemed to be her struggles with the TTFI, which may have affected her mentally. She was not at her best in Birmingham, which ultimately resulted in her medalless campaign.

After the event, the Indian paddler apologized to the country in an emotional post on Instagram for not winning a medal in Birmingham, but was also determined to come back stronger.

“I am sorry for my country and for the people who hoped and cheered for me. At this CWG I could only make it to the quarter finals and yes I am very upset. I am in tears every morning from the day I lost that match But I promise that I will come out of this stronger and work hard every day with the same hunger,” Batra wrote.

The comeback and the way forward

Judging from her career achievements, the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna winner Manika definitely had that mental toughness to overcome the challenges and adversity and she did so by gradually improving her performance in tournament after tournament.

After CWG, Manika worked with the coach on her game and fitness, but the comeback wasn’t easy. Top seed Batra lost to Sutirtha Mukherjee in the women’s table tennis semifinals of the 36th National Games in September.

However, a major tournament like the Asian Cup in Bangkok last November changed things dramatically for her. With her Asian Cup bronze, she became the first Indian female table tennis player to medal in the continental event and only the second Indian to achieve the feat after Chetan Baboor, who won silver in 1997 and bronze in 2000.

The historic medal gave her a confidence boost and Batra has been on the rise ever since, recently achieving her career-best singles ranking.

There are many major events like World Table Tennis Championships, Asian Games and others where Indian fans would like Manika to deliver an impressive performance, gain momentum and peak at the right time for Paris 2024 Olympics.

Meghna Ahlawat new TTFI chief

In 2022, the Delhi High Court had suspended TTFI in February and appointed a Committee of Administrators (CoA) to take over its operation. The verdict came after Manika Batra filed a petition with the court for alleged match-fixing against the national coach during the qualifying matches of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

She claimed that then national coach Soumyadeep Roy asked her to admit a match against compatriot Sutirtha Mukherjee – she also trained at his academy.

The court appointed a three-member commission to investigate the allegations.

Meghna Ahlawat was then elected president of the federation and former stalwart Kamlesh Mehta was elected general secretary. Patel Nagender Reddy was elected treasurer.

Ahlawat, the wife of Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, ran against Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghvi. Dushyant Chautala was the previous TTFI chairman.

The elections came as a huge relief as the Executive Committee of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) had proposed the suspension of TTFI.




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