Manika Batra will participate in the Olympics for the 2nd time. | Photo credit: IANS
- Following their success at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, fans have high expectations of the table tennis contingent
- Manika Batra could be India’s best hope for Olympic medal
- No Indian paddler has ever managed to win an Olympic medal
Indian paddlers will aim to end the Olympic medal drought when they land in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics. Table tennis is one of the sports where Indians have yet to win an Olympic medal. Building on their success at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the paddlers hope to emulate their performance in Tokyo.
At the 2018 CWG, the Indian contingent won 8 medals – 3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze. Manika Batra won the gold medal in the women’s singles and was also part of the women’s team that took the glory in the team event. The men’s team also won the gold medal in the Gold Coast.
The level of competition will be more difficult at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and winning a medal will be a difficult task for the Indian contingent. Ahead of the event, here’s a look at India’s table tennis contingent for the Tokyo Olympics –
Thanks to her success at CWG 2018, Indian audiences have high hopes for the paddler. Batra won 2 gold medals (one in the team event) in Gold Coast. She will compete in her second Olympics this year. Batra had fallen in the first round of the Rio Olympics.
Competition is tough in table tennis and Batra will have a tough road. In a conversation with Sportsstar earlier this year, Batra said she wanted to shock at least one senior player at the Tokyo Olympics.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will make his Olympic Games debut this year. The 28-year-old had qualified for the games after beating Pakistani Muhammad Rameez in the qualifying tournament in March. Gnanasekaran made special preparations for the Olympics and trained on the STAG table.
Speaking to Timesnownews.com in May, Sathiyan revealed that he was working on his power play and that he would view the Olympics as a normal event. He was part of the men’s team that won gold at the 2018 CWG.
Veteran paddler Sharath Kamal will try again to win an Olympic medal as he competes in his 4th world event. Sharath, who received Padma Shri in 2019, will compete in the singles and doubles events. The 38-year-old is hoping for a good show as he had said it would be his best Olympics. Sharath is the most experienced paddler in the Indian team.
Given his career and experience, Sharath is India’s top medal prospect.
Another player who was part of the women’s team that won gold at the CWG 2018, Sutirtha Mukherjee is hoping for a medal in her first Olympics. Mukherjee had qualified for the quadrennial event after beating Manika Batra in the qualifying tournament 4-2.
Her career hit a roadblock when she was suspended for age-related fraud in 2016. She has rebounded strongly and hopes to make history in Tokyo.