Manika to focus on singles, mixed-doubles

HAVING RIGHT PRIORITIES Table tennis star Manika Batra during a function in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

Manika Batra believes the confidence she gained from her performances in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games has put her in good stead for Tokyo Games.

The 23-year-old didn't hesitate in stating the need to put in extra yards for Olympics. The Delhi paddler had created history by winning four medals in the Commonwealth Games and mixed doubles bronze in mixed event in the Asian Games.

“Winning a medal in the Asian Games is a great achievement, nobody thought we could win medals in Asian Games. It marked a new beginning for me,” Manika said during the announcement of her association with Herbalife Nutrition on Thursday.

“I have to work harder to win an Olympic medal. I am working towards that, trying to win international medals.”

Manika revealed how 2016 Rio Olympics became the turning point for her. “In Rio, I lost to a Polish girl in a close match, that's when I thought I played a close match on such a big platform so I can do anything. For me it started after the Rio Games to do something that people will remember me for,” she said.

“Earlier, there was a bit of fear as to how we will beat the Chinese and other Asian girls. But I worked on my strategies, and realised it was only in our minds.”

Focus on mixed doubles

Her participation with seasoned Sharath Kamal fetched India one of their two bronze medals in the Asian Games. Manika admitted mixed doubles would be a priority event for Indians.

“Before the Asian games we (she and Sharath) had just five sessions of practice in China, we didn't expect we will beat the Korean pairs who are top class and have won many tournaments. But we did,” she said.

“Singles remain my focus but we have done so well in mixed doubles in Asiad, so we think we can do that in Olympics also,” she added.

Table Tennis Federation of India secretary-general, MP Singh, concurred. “We will concentrate on mixed doubles and put Manika and Sharath in as many events as possible, so that they are able to make the cut for Tokyo Olympics.”

Meanwhile, Manika, who has been approved for the Arjuna Award, said she would have liked if her coach Sandeep Gupta was conferred the Dronacharya award, but chose to respect the decision of the government.

 

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Manika to focus on singles, mixed-doubles

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