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Manav Thakkar: ‘Skating’ his way to the top

Remarkable climb: Manav’s stints abroad have boosted his confidence.

Remarkable climb: Manav’s stints abroad have boosted his confidence.  

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Manav, World No. 1 in under-21, reveals how the wheels and flips have helped him

Manav Thakkar etched his name in the history books on Thursday, becoming the first Indian table tennis player to be ranked World No. 1 in the under-21 category.

“It feels great and I think it’s the perfect start to 2020. I hope I can continue like this and end the year on a high,” Manav told Sportstar in a phone conversation. Manav topped the table with 6780 points followed by France’s Bastien Remebert (6510). He had also climbed to World No. 1 in the under-18 category in February, 2018.

The Surat-born paddler revealed how, till the age of five, he took part in various other sports before finding his calling in table tennis. Born to doctor parents, Kalpana and Vikash Thakkar, Manav was kept busy with many activities as he was a single child. He took up skating before moving on to table tennis and gymnastics.

Asked how other sports helped him on the table, Manav said: “Reflexes are an important part of table tennis and that’s where gymnastics helped. It also helped me in maintaining posture and improving concentration. My mother, a yoga instructor, knew gymnastics and yoga would help me with everything.”

Smooth as silk

The 19-year-old Thakkar revealed how skating made his feet movement smoother. “Skating helps with leg movement and agility as you need cross-stepping when you turn. In table tennis, when you want to reach a long ball, you have to make optimum use of both legs by doing cross-stepping.”

Manav, who plays in the Polish league, trains in Germany and Denmark with many top-20 players in the world. “After training with them and watching them prepare, I have grown in confidence. I have to make sure I don’t miss my returns as it will ruin their practice. That made me start doing better,” he said.

Eyeing the top-100

Manav’s next target is the top-100. “I think I can break into the top-100 in the next 6-7 months. I was in the 150s and after this achievement, I have jumped to 132,” said Manav.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 8:12:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/manav-thakkar-skating-his-way-to-the-top/article30472999.ece

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