Other Sports

Indian men’s table tennisteam to train together

Working hard: From left, Manav Thakkar, Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal train at Hall of TT, Nehru Stadium.

Working hard: From left, Manav Thakkar, Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal train at Hall of TT, Nehru Stadium.  

Over the next nine days the entire Indian men’s table tennis team will be training at the Hall of TT, Nehru Stadium here, in preparation for the World Team Qualification tournament [for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics] to be held in Gondomar, Portugal, from January 22 to 26.

On Sunday, Sharath Kamal was sparring with Manav Thakkar, and India’s highest-ranked women’s singles player Manika Batra was playing at the far end of the hall with Sanat, a junior paddler from Pune.

India’s best singles player G. Sathiyan, Commonwealth champion Harmeet Desai and SAF Games winner A. Amalraj are expected to join the team soon.

Sharath, who was instrumental in organising the camp, said: “We have been without a coach since the 2018 Asian Games — one year and 2 months, now. The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is trying its best. But we can’t keep hoping that something will happen,” he said.

The Commonwealth Games champion said he and Sathiyan have requested the TTFI to form a panel of Indian coaches to assist the teams in the build up to the Tokyo Olympics.

TOP Scheme-supported camp

In Chennai, the TOP Scheme-supported camp has an entire ecosystem to help the players. Former Indian TT team sports analyst Rajath Kamal is assisting his brother Sharath in managing the schedule and logistics, and there is the Indian team’s physio Hirak Bagchi and fitness trainer Ramji Srinivasan’s Sports Dynamix.

“All components except the [head] coach have been added to the camp,” smiles Sharath.

With a month for the qualification tournament, Sharath said one of the main points of focus of the camp is on doubles.

The Portugal event consists of five matches — one doubles and four singles. “Doubles will be the most important as the tie starts with it,” emphasises Sharath.

The doubles combination, however, will be finalised only after Sathiyan, Amalraj and Harmeet arrive. “What we are concerned about is the doubles, because normally Sathiyan and I pair up. But in this tournament, we cannot play together as one of us will have to play two singles. We need to practice with all the permutations and combinations,” said the 37-year-old.

Manika said she had come to the city to train with Sharath for the mixed doubles. “Sharath bhaiya and I are mixed doubles partners. We wanted to train together, as many tournaments are coming up. If we train like this we can achieve something,” she said.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 2:56:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/indian-mens-table-tennisteam-to-train-together/article30374336.ece

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