Express News Service
CHENNAI: World No 38 and current national table tennis champion A Sharath Kamal is keen to do well in the upcoming Commonwealth Games that are scheduled to be held this month end in England. He is keen to perform better than what he did last time and has flown all the way to Hungary to play in a couple of tournaments as part of his preparations. Sharath is keen to retain the Team gold, and try to bag singles and doubles golds along with G Sathiyan. Speaking to this daily from Budapest, Sharath says that England is the team to beat and insists that he has begun preparing for the games from December 2021. Excerpts…
On being a part of the Indian contingent
CWG is a very prestigious tournament after the Olympic Games where we play for Team India . Representing India in these multi-sport events has a different feeling compared to a world championship. It’s a proud moment to represent the country at the CWG. My first CWG was in Melbourne in 2006 where I won 2 gold medals (1 in singles and 1 in the team) and it is always special for me.
This was the first time India had won gold at the CWG and I can still remember my singles finals when many players/officials from the Indian contingent came over to cheer for me. Personally, that was the best CWG for me with 2 golds, but it’s very close to the CWGs in 2010 and 2018 where I got 3 medals each in both editions.
How do you fancy your chances this time?
This time we have a strong team where I hope to defend the gold medal (team event). In men’s doubles last time, partnering with G Sathiyan, we won the silver medal and I hope we can win the gold this time. In singles, I will be seeded 4 where I stand a chance for another medal. In the mixed doubles, I am partnering with Sreeja Akula, with whom this will be a new partnership, and I hope to do our best.
How have the preparations been?
I started my preparation for this CWG in December 2021 and since then I have been doing well in the tournaments that I have played. I played in the semifinals in a WTT contender tournament at Doha and followed it by winning the Indian national championships for a record 10th time. In January, I was in Germany for three weeks and trained for the event. I am part of the best club in Europe called Borussia Düsseldorf which won the Champions League and the German league this year. So it was a good outing. In February, I was in Qatar practicing and playing a few matches. Prior to the CWG, I will be playing two tournaments in Budapest and I hope to get some good matches there.
Under whom did you prepare for the championship in England?
In the months of May and June, I was training in Chennai under my childhood coaches. Dronacharya awardee Srinivasa Rao and Muralidhara Rao have been guiding me since I was a four-year-old boy and they are still continuing to contribute to my success. I have worked a lot on sharpening my strength which is my forehand and at the same time, I have been able to work on keeping my backhand stable. Have added a few new elements to my serve and returns too.
On the team to beat
England will be a strong team to beat and we are equally poised, while Nigeria and Singapore are also good teams too. But we should be able to beat them. Individually, Aruna Quadri, Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhaul and Sam Walker are good players and the ones to beat.
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