Tokyo Olympics: Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, Sathyian & Mukherjee qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics: Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, Sathyian & Mukherjee qualfies for Tokyo Olympics
Tokyo Olympics: Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, Sathyian & Mukherjee qualfies for Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics – 4 Indian Table Tennis players book Tokyo Olympics Quota: Indian Table Tennis star Achanta Sharath Kamal became the first Indian paddler to book a spot at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games after he defeated Pakistani opponent Muhammad Rameez in the second men’s singles round-robin match in the South Asia group at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha on Thursday.

The veteran suffered an initial defeat against fellow countryman Gnansekaran Sathiyan 9-11, 13-15, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 8-11 in the opening match of the group; however looked in complete control against Pakistani Muhammad Rameez as he took just over 22 minutes to wrap up the game 11-4, 11-1, 11-5, 11-4 comfortably and seal the Tokyo berth with at least a second-place finish in the group, and by virtue of being the highest-ranked paddler in the event.

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Tokyo Olympics: Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, Sathyian & Mukherjee qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

“It was a good match against Sathiyan but I made some errors and he capitalised on them to win the match. I was a bit nervous before playing against Rameez as I had never faced him before. But after the first few games I was confident that my strategy was working and I executed it well to maintain control,” the World No. 32 Sharath said from Doha after qualifying.

38-year-old Sharath had been in impressive form before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world. With no matches happening, Sharath’s preparation for Tokyo was badly impacted. However, the Indian refused to give up and returned to the table after a break of almost a year at the recently concluded WTT Contender Doha and a last-16 finish in the two events as well as defeating World No 16 Patrick Franziska gave him enough confidence ahead of the Asian Qualifiers.

Tokyo Olympics: Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, Sathyian & Mukherjee qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

G. Sathiyan, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee also booked their places in the Tokyo Olympics, on Thursday.

At the Asian Olympic qualification event in Doha, Sathiyan and Sutirtha qualified as group toppers for what will be their maiden Olympics, while Sharath and Manika made the cut as the highest-ranked second-placed players in their respective categories.

It will be Sharath’s fourth appearance at the Olympics and second for Manika.

Sathiyan and Sharath faced each other in the opening group encounter, with the former prevailing 11-9, 15-13, 5-11, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8. The World No.38 then defeated Pakistan’s Muhammad Rameez 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-2 to seal his berth.

Sutirtha and Manika clashed in a winner-takes-all final group encounter. Sutirtha came through 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4 against her higher-ranked compatriot to clinch the tie and the Tokyo spot.

The Indian contingent will now shift its focus to mixed doubles where Sharath and Manika are in with a chance to secure the lone Olympic berth available at the Asian qualifiers.

The Indian duo beat Qatar’s Mohammed Abdul Wahhab and Maha Faramarzi 11-6, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 to enter the semifinals. In the last-four match on Friday, it will take on Koen Pang Yew En and Ye Lin of Singapore.