Sports

Table tennis | Sharath Kamal confident of Indian men’s TT team booking Paris ticket

Sharath Kamal is seen during a function in Chennai on January 30, 2024.
| Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

India’s star paddler Sharath Kamal is quite confident of the Indian men’s team qualifying for the Paris Olympics through the World team table tennis championships in Busan from February 16 to 25.

“This is our last chance [World team championships] to make it to the quadrennial event. I am pretty confident we can make it to the knockouts (top three make the grade from eight groups). If we make it to the quarterfinals, we can make it to Paris. Our men’s team is ranked 16 now. We will go up to 15 once the world team rankings are released next week. Of course, the deadline is July 2024,” the 41-year-old told the media on January 30.

The Indian men’s team is in Group 3 with Korea, Poland, New Zealand and Chile. There are eight groups and the top three from each group will make it to the knockouts.

Assessing the teams, Sharath said: “Korea is a top team while Poland is a dangerous young side. We also have a young team, including Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar. I am fit. Sathiyan is recovering from back injury and will be back. As for me, I have been focusing on Worlds for the last six months. We are confident,” he said.

Sharath’s mind is focused only on the Worlds. “It will be the be-all and end-all as far as I am concerned. India has never qualified for Olympics as a team. If we do it, we will get funding from SAI and other external sources. We are sorted for the next four years,” he said. Sharath, however, is not keen on playing singles at Paris. “I might not try as it hasn’t given me the motivation.

“I might not take part in the South Asian qualifying tournament as I don’t want to compete with the youngsters whom I am mentoring. If we qualify in men’s team, two singles places are guaranteed (TTFI can decide as to who should go). I don’t want to go there, too. In doubles, I will contribute,” he said.

The multiple Commonwealth Games and Asian Games medallist and one of India’s finest Indian paddlers is more than eager to give his all for a final shot at Paris.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *