Sharath Kamal thought the Olympics in Tokyo could be his fourth and final however contemplating that he has by no means felt higher and fitter in his profession spanning virtually twenty years, the 39-year-old Indian desk tennis nice is reconsidering his future plans now. Speaking to PTI two days earlier than his departure for the Tokyo Games, the world quantity 32 finds himself on the peak of his sport. Earlier, the objective was to cease after the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games for the sake of his younger household however he cannot rule himself out from the Paris Olympics in 2024. He says if Germany’s world quantity 10 Timo Boll can play in his 40s, he can too.
“According to my wife, this is my last Olympics (laughs), but let’s see how the body holds up till the CWG and Asian Games next year. I feel I am at the peak of my game physically as well as mentally,” he mentioned.
Sharath has missed just one Olympic Games (London 2012) since his debut at Athens in 2004.
Every time he has been part of the sporting extravaganza, he has gained one thing.
“I remember Athens 2004, I didn’t know how to prepare at all. 2008 Beijing I slowly understood what was required at that level and 2016 I prepared really well but didn’t get the results unfortunately, also I was coming from an injury (hip).
“This time I really feel I’ve gotten higher as a participant and my rankings mirror that. In 2016, my sport was at a stage the place I couldn’t play the spherical of 16 or the quarterfinals within the Olympics. But now on day, I can try this.”
Sharath ended a decade long wait for an ITTF title, before the COVID-19-induced break in March last year, with a win at the Muscat Open. His previous title had come way back in 2010.
“I acquired to thirtieth on the planet rankings in 2019 however within the final couple of years, I really feel on the high of my sport, beating so many high stage gamers persistently. In 2010, I performed properly however I wasn’t this constant.
“Game wise, body wise, I am in the right space. Now I have understood how the mind reacts, how to handle pressure and anxiety. Physically, I have really worked hard to be here,” mentioned Sharath, who’s feeling good about his prospects in Tokyo after a 25-day nationwide camp in Sonepat.
Reaching the spherical of 16 or quarterfinals in Tokyo is a particular chance, mentioned Sharath whose finest probability of a dream Olympic medal stays in combined doubles alongside Manika Batra.
The duo gained the Asian qualifying occasion earlier this yr however since then, the 2 haven’t acquired a lot time to follow collectively. They solely spent three days in Sonepat earlier than Manika returned to her coaching base in Pune.
Manika and Sharath must win three video games to win an Olympic medal however it will likely be a tall order for the Asian Games bronze medallists.
“We should get four-five days in Japan together and hopefully we would be fully ready. We have been studying our opponents all this while instead of going straight into the match and figuring it out.
“It goes to be very troublesome (even in combined doubles). Even the primary spherical might be powerful since we might be enjoying a top-8 staff.”
The table tennis contingent could not travel for training and competition ahead of the Olympics due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Sharath feels not playing in a similar environment will be their biggest challenge in Tokyo.
“If it wasn’t for COVID, we might have travelled to a spot the place we may simulate circumstances just like Tokyo, get used to the corridor and the desk.”
The game has become faster and faster, feels Sharath, who has been forced to adapt to meet the requirements.
“The reflexes and hand eye coordination is most necessary. If that goes, you might be completed. The subsequent technology is enjoying quicker than the earlier one and I come from a technology the place you play the ball late.
“But I have made the required changes to keep up with the modern game. Even now (last three months) I had to adapt a few things into my game to boost my backhand which would help me finish better with the forehand,” he concluded.
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