New Delhi [India], April 28 (ANI): India's highest-ranked table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal on Wednesday stated he has hope of winning an Olympic Games medal this time, especially in mixed doubles with Manika Batra.
"Back in 2004, I had a dream of winning an Olympic medal and 17 years later, I am sitting here with the hope it is actually going to turn into a reality," he said at a media interaction facilitated by the Sports Authority of India.
"The nation's dream of winning a medal in table tennis can come true, especially in mixed doubles where a medal is just three rounds away," he further said.
He mentioned that his confidence was rooted in the 2018 Asian Games medal. "The Asian Games bronze medal that Manika and I won in Jakarta leads me to believe that if we can do it in the Asian Games, we have a fair chance at the Tokyo Olympics as Asia is a powerhouse and the best teams are from the continent. So, when you medal in the Asian Games, you have that confidence that this is going to be the best Olympics in terms of performance and in terms of results," he added.
Speaking about his partnership with Manika, Sharath Kamal said they have had very good sessions in the recent weeks and had worked on some aspects like footwork and coordination, where they complement one other.
For this Olympic cycle, Sharath Kamal was inducted into Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in December 2018 for which he was given financial support of close to Rs 50 lakh, with most of the finances being sanctioned towards the cost for international competitions, fee for support staff, expenditure for equipment, and Out of Pocket Allowance (OPA).
On July 4, 2019, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) had sanctioned a budget of Rs 12.13 crore to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) under the Annual Calendar of Training and Competition (ACTC) until September 2020. On April 1, in a fresh approval until March 2022, the TTFI has approved a budget of Rs 7.77 crore.
Tokyo2020 would be Sharath's fourth Olympic Games but he would compete in two events -- Men's Singles and Mixed Doubles -- for the first time. (ANI)