Since winning the bronze medal in mixed doubles at the 2018 Asian games, expectations have increased from Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra. Indian paddlers have never won a medal at the Olympics but with the right tactics, this table tennis duo can surprise anybody on a given day.
On Saturday 24th July, Sharath and Manika will be up against third seed Chinese Taipei pair Lin Y-j and Cheng I-C in mixed doubles.
Sportskeeda had an exclusive chat with Sharath Kamal at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium ahead of the Games.
Representing the country for the fourth time at the Olympics, Sharath said:
“The experience has been different so far, with a lot of protocols and empty stadiums but safety first. This is my fourth olympics but first in pandemic. Everyone had a small anxiety about the games and how the games will be. But I’m really happy to be here. I had a good pre-olympics training and was satisfied with it.”
Upon being asked about the first round mixed doubles match against third seed chinese Taipei pair, Sharath replied:
‘It’s going to be tough, we have not played against them before. We have a slightly different combination (with manika), we will try to get the Chinese Taipei pair into our strategy and tactical play. If we are able to upset then the draw will be wide open up and we can go a long way. I hope we are able to start well against the Chinese Taipei pair.”
“I like to have pressure during the match and then I don’t make many mistakes. You need to have a mental frame of mind where you can convert the match into a win. But at the same time given a chance we should be able to grab that opportunity.”
Sharath Kamal praises Manika Batra
Sharath also talked about her partner Manika. He said:
“Manika is able to raise her game under pressure whenever we are in a tough situation. Her game can surprise opponents. They go like – Oh wow, where did this come from?”
Sharath feels his job is to set up the game for Manika. He said:
“My job is to build up the pressure on the opponents and then Manika can take over.”
With a few positive cases confirmed, we asked the Indian paddler about the fear spreading due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said:
“We keep hearing about this from players from other countries as well. But we are here for a purpose and our focus has to stay in the game. Only two days are left to start the games, and I hope everything goes fine.”
Also Read: Tokyo Olympics 2021 Schedule