The table tennis court at the Tokyo Olympics will be extremely competitive, but India is hoping for a historic medal. The table tennis team will leave for Japan next week. Manika Batra’s quartet, Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan and Sutirtha Mukherjee, as well as coach Soumyadeep Roy spoke exclusively to NDTV ahead of the Tokyo Games. âThis is the best team we have ever sent to the Olympics. We are in a situation where everything is difficult, but they have made sacrifices and determination, hard work and goals, preparation of all the athletes. over a period of 3 or 4 years, “said coach Soumyadeep Roy.
The team from India will have to serve a three-day isolation period before they can access the sites. The players prepared for this unprecedented situation.
Sharath Kamal, three-time Olympic veteran, who will now compete in her 4th Olympics, said: “I think the Olympics are going to be very different, given the current scenario in the world with restrictions and rules. Understanding the rules while competing and before the competition are all going to take some of our minds. It will be the best Olympics for all of us. “
Sharath and Manika are expected to win a medal in mixed doubles. Hopes have been on the duo since their bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
âWe won bronze in men’s doubles and mixed doubles, for the first time in 62 years at the Asian Games. It gave us the right kind of motivation. I think the strengths we both have is ability. to elevate our games under pressure, which Manika in singles and doubles specializes in, and I am able to do that over a period of time, âsaid Sharath Kamal.
âThe style of play we have is due to the fact that we’re both tall and have a bit of physics and coordination to move around. Our advantage is that she is able to slow down the game at the fastest speeds. low and from there I can increase my power, because I play a power game. The contrast between the speeds and the ability to slow down and increase is our strength, and I hope we can put n ‘ any opponent in that kind of pace. We hope that with a good draw at the Olympics, we can fulfill our own dreams of getting the gold medal, “he added.
âIt will be a change, but we played together in qualifying and beat Korean players and played amazingly. Personally, I think when we give our best, I can support Sharath bhaiya, and I am going to try everything I can in Tokyo, and I’m excited for it, âManika said of the challenge facing the Indians.
However, the 26-year-old from Delhi is realistic.
âEveryone comes after a tough situation and comes after 100% investing. I tried to adjust to Japanese time, waking up at 5:30 am and working out in the morning. won’t put pressure on me, but I know I can beat good players and surprise myself there, âshe said.
G Sathiyan will be competing in his first Olympics and there is a surprise factor about him as well. Often referred to as the Virat Kohli of table tennis, Sathiyan is ready to make a splash.
“This is the first time that two Indians will start straight in the round of 16, it’s really high and an advantage to start so high,” he said.
âI’m also in good shape, having beaten higher ranked players and those kind of wins before the pandemic gave me a lot of confidence. It might be my first Olympics, but I’ve played a lot of international events that m ‘gave exposure to face the big guns. If we play good table tennis for 3 days. My goal is to reach the QFs, and from there you enter the main area. For me it It’s about beating the best opponents, bringing out two big names, and from there the path opens and you can enjoy the game, âSathiyan said of his game plan.
The team also has a fourth member in Sutirtha Mukherjee. At the dawn of her first Games, she is uninhibited and promises to cause some upheaval.
With the exposure to play in leagues around the world and beat some of the best players, Indian table tennis is on top and the current crop is on to cause some upheaval and step onto the podium in Tokyo.
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