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Olympic Games: India looks to Sharath Kamal Achanta

Tuesday 15 June

Olympic Games: India looks to Sharath Kamal Achanta

A debut at the World Championships in 2003 in Paris, a first appearance in the Olympic Games one year later in Athens; Sharath Kamal Achanta is very much the players to whom India looks for inspiration in Tokyo.

Power, a key factor in the style of Sharath Kamal Achanta

The captain of the ship, the voice of experience, notably, he will have passed his 39th birthday when play commences on Saturday 24th July in the Metropolitan Gymnasium.

He will compete in the men’s singles and mixed doubles partnering Manika Batra; the absence of India in the men’s team event being somewhat of a disappointment following the exploits of 2018.

At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, alongside Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai, he played a major role in the men’s team gold medal success; later in the year, the same trio claimed bronze at the Asian Games in Jakarata. It was the country’s first ever medal in the table tennis events at the prestigious gathering; table tennis being first introduced into the schedule in 1958 in Tokyo.

Thus, at the 2020 World Qualification Tournament in Gondomar, the fifth seeds, India was very much tipped to gain one of the nine places available; it did not happen. They experienced a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Slovenia, the no.11 seeds and then when a second chance arose, suffered by the same margin in opposition to the Czech Republic, the no.16 seeds.

Now, for Sharath Kamal Achanta can he restore a degree of pride; perhaps a medal is too much to ask but can he exceed past performances?

In his three appearances to date, he did not compete in London, he has yet to make an impact. On debut in Athens, he beat Algeria’s Mohamed Boudjadja prior to losing to Hong Kong’s Ko Lai Chak.

Likewise, four years later in Beijing it was also farewell in round two. He accounted for Spain’s Alfredo Carneros, before departing proceedings at the hands of Austria’s Chen Weixing. Meanwhile, in Rio de Janeiro, it was an opening round exit; he lost to Romania’s Adrian Crisan.

Arguably the results are not enlightening but during his long career, Sharath Kamal Achanta has clearly displayed that he can succeed on the big stage. In 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, he won the men’s singles title at the Commonwealth Championships, two years later in Melbourne he did the same at the Commonwealth Games.

Furthermore in 2010, on the ITTF World Tour in Egypt, he won the men’s singles title; more recently a decade later in March 2020 he prevailed in Muscat at the ITTF Challenge Oman Open.

Now can the player who is somewhat different from his Indian predecessors, power his forte as opposed to being a fast close to the table attacking player, excel in Tokyo?

Moreover, is it his last chance? Or is there is there just one more, Paris in 2024?

Editor: Ian Marshall

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