Sharath Kamal aims for four medals at Birmingham CWG 2022

If there is one Indian athlete who has never returned empty-handed from the last four Commonwealth Games, it is Achanta Sharath Kamal. The future 40-year-old will become the first Indian to compete in five Commonwealth Games.

At the last CWG, in 2018, Sharath Kamal won three medals (gold in the men’s team, silver in the men’s doubles and bronze in the men’s singles). In Birmingham, he is looking to improve his performance on the Gold Coast. He is aiming to make history by winning four medals in Birmingham, one medal in each event.

Sharath Kamal spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda ahead of his appearance at the fifth Commonwealth Games.

“I think I’m quite a senior player, I’ve been around for 20 years now. Few players have played for such a long time. I’m really happy, I’m still able to contribute to the country and the sport, especially at this time of year when there is strong competition for a few gold medals in this CWG.

A seasoned activist, Sharath Kamal has won a total of eight CWG medals. Asked about competition and medal hopes in Birmingham, he replied:

“The competition is pretty much the same, nothing has changed much. In the men’s team event, India are expected to play the final. Our main objective is to defend our gold. In men’s doubles, Sathiyan and I have won silver last time, hopefully this time we can turn it into gold.

“In singles I got bronze in Gold Coast and I’ll be happy if I make it to the final winning gold. The competition is about even, I will be seeded 4 in Birmingham. I beat all the players who are ranked above me. So it will be a pretty close match. I’m also doing very well, I’m playing the semi-final of the WTT, in Doha. I won the national championships for the 10th time, so I was in good shape.

A very tight match to the wire. Very happy with the way I have been playing over the past few days. Looking forward to continuing this momentum in the next @WTTGlobal Star Contender tournament, which starts in a few days. Will participate in the men’s singles and doubles events!

Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will be the mixed doubles seeds in Birmingham. Sharath will be paired with Sreeja Akula in this category. When asked if there was a possibility of an all-Indian final, the veteran replied:

“I’ve only played one tournament with Sreeja before, but at this level it will be important. We both play well in singles. We are national champions and at international level she always does well.

“I hope it will result in a double as well. Sathiyan and Manika are the top seeds, it would be nice to have an all-Indian final, but there are also other good mixed pairings from Singapore, England , Australia and Canada. If that happens, it will be the first All India Mixed Doubles final in CWG history.

Sharath Kamal’s equation with Sathiyan

Sharath and Sathiyan are both from Chennai and play a healthy competition in singles. Sharath recently defeated Sathiyan to become national champion for the 10th time. Converting healthy singles competition into a doubles partnership is no easy task.

Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran
Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

“We have a very good relationship. He still feels like I’m his big brother and I also think we’re going hand in hand to build the team that will carry the Indian flag. We both complement each other and I think competition is extremely healthy for both of us.

“Sometimes his ranking is better than mine or my ranking is better than his. I played well in a few tournaments and then he played well. I think the competition is very, very healthy and that can keep us both active and eager to do what we do best.

“We’ve been playing doubles for 4-5 years and we pretty much know how each of us will play. He’s a great doubles player, a great partner to go with, especially in situations where there’s doubt. crucial moments, he sets the bar very high and does very well, which makes things easier for me.”

Fitness challenges for Sharath Kamal

Sharath mostly faces opponents 10 years younger than him or half his age. At the age of 40, it’s a daunting task to stay in shape and be at the top of your game. His physical trainer Ramji Srinivasan designs different fitness sessions during and after the season.

His sessions can go up to one hour and 45 minutes out of season. Whereas in the run-up to major tournaments like the Olympics or the CWG, it would last a maximum of 45 minutes and would require very high intensity training.

“Before, I spent 6 to 7 hours on the table. But now I only spend 3-4 hours on the table and 3-4 hours in the gym or fitness court. With just skills, I won’t be able to compete in the modern TT.

“Fitness is very important to me at the moment and that’s the only reason I’m still able to play with them. I’ve been focusing a lot on the fitness part lately and that’s helped me keep going. to perform better and better.”

In preparation for the CWG, Sharath Kamal, ranked 38th in the world, will compete in the WTT Star Contender and WTT Feeder Series in Budapest, Hungary. WTT Star Contender will feature almost all top 10 players in the world. Sharath reached the WTT Contender Semi-Finals in Doha, Qatar earlier this year.

Sharath recently met five-time Olympic medalist Justin Gatlin of the United States at an event in Bangalore. About meeting Gatlin, Sharath Kamal said:

“Justin Gatlin is pretty awesome. In Athletics, it’s not very easy to play for so long. The younger generation will always be better than they were in the past, but he was able to continue to perform well.

“In 2004 in Athens he won the gold medal and in 2016 in Rio he won silver. You don’t see athletes who can have such a long duration and in such a physical sport for them The way he interacted and shared Life experiences with us were special.We never thought he would be an Olympic gold medalist.

Sharath Kamal’s view on how to increase the popularity of his sport

Indian paddlers have reached new heights but the popularity of the sport has not increased compared to other sports. Also on this issue, Achanta Sharath Kamal shared her thoughts.

“We have to win big medals at the World Championships or the Olympics, so that the victory can be celebrated. We had a fantastic run at CWG 2018, with Manika winning four medals and winning us team gold. Even when I won singles gold in 2006, the popularity of the sport grew.

“But we have to do it regularly at international level as a team to gain that popularity. But we need world and Olympic champions to have that kind of popularity like badminton or other sports.”

Table tennis in Birmingham will be played at the National Exhibition Centre. The NEC will also host weightlifting, badminton and boxing. At CWG, there is always an opportunity to watch multiple sports. However, Sharath Kamal is unsure whether he and his teammates will have time to watch other sports.

Brilliant performances and a historic feat by our commuters! Beat the best to the end to win the prestigious #ThomasCup title for the first time in 73 years! #TeamIndia

“We will be playing from day one and playing almost every day of the tournament. I don’t know how much time we will have to watch other sports.

“We are very close to the badminton guys. Satwik, Chirag, Lakshya and others are good people. We keep writing to each other. Badminton and table tennis are also sister sports. Even in Birmingham our halls are nearby, so watch them in action when we have time.

“Also, I will try to watch squash because most of the players are from my city, Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal, Sourabh Ghosal. I don’t know if we will have time to watch a team sport like hockey. “

Let’s hope Sharath Kamal is on the winning side throughout CWG 2022, whether on the pitch or in the stands, supporting his compatriots.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat

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