Achanta Sharath Kamal is a veteran of Indian table tennis and qualified for his fourth Olympics when he took his spot in the Tokyo Games on Thursday. Sharath Kamal defeated Pakistani Muhammad Rameez to complete the battle. Despite losing the first group match of fellow countryman Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who also qualified for the Olympics, Sharath Kamal easily beat Rameez 11-4, 11-1, 11-5, 11-4.
Sharath Kamal qualified for the Tokyo Games for being the top-ranked player in second place of the five groups, while Sathiyan qualified by finishing best of the South Asian group in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
For the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Sharath Kamal also defeated World No. 16 Patrick Franziska at the WTT Star Contender Doha and was happy to put in such a feat after struggling during the coronavirus hiatus.
“It was mentally difficult because of the Covid-19 hiatus. Before that, everything went well, but just a few months after the Olympics and everything came to a halt. It’s like preparing for something and then everything stops and you don’t know what to expect. That’s the hard part. But I’m happy with my performance this month and now I’m going to focus on Tokyo Games, ”said Sharath in an exclusive chat with News18.com.
Sharath said the hardest part of the Covid breakthrough was the focus. He said that although he was training at home and he had a table at home so he could keep practicing, the uncertainty was high.
Nothing was open. The first training I had in a room was in August. The most important thing was to have the motivation to go on day after day without knowing the plan or what is going to happen. We got into a routine when things slowed down, but we were behind all the top countries because no one stopped for that long. However, I can beat Doha, the number 16 in the world and I was happy to have started where I left off, ”described Sharath.
Sharath didn’t look too much at his loss to Sathiyan for their last two games (including the National Championships), but said it was a “high quality game”.
“We played together and knew what to do before the game. But we also knew we could both qualify by beating the Pakistani player and therefore it was not a high pressure game. It was more of a really good practice game. I am happy that Sathiyan made it to the South Asian quota as I qualified with the rankings. “
The veteran said the table tennis bar has been on the rise since 2016 and he hoped the benchmark they set will help young players in the future. “Indian table tennis continues to do well. Since 2016, the bar has been set higher and it is only going in an upward direction. I am happy with the level of performance we are achieving and I hope this makes it better for the young people. We are setting a benchmark that will hopefully be given more priority as a sport. ”
Sharath said his training schedule for the Olympics will depend on travel restrictions due to Covid-19, but he will be looking for good foreign players in India to train with or try to train in Europe from April. “We will look at the plan based on the situation worldwide. Both Sathiyan and I are based in Chennai, so we can also pool our resources to get a good training. “
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