So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then we summon the will, they soon become inevitable: Sharath Kamal
All of us have or had a dream at some point in life. Perhaps, it sounded so crazy that we gave up on it without even trying. Maybe some of us tried, but couldn’t make it through. And, there are others who gave it their all and fulfilled that dream. Their dream gives them the strength to overcome each and every obstacle and there is nothing that can stop them. Today we are exploring the journey and life story of one such winner, who simply hates to lose! Achanta Sharath Kamal, the Indian table tennis player, has won numerous titles in his long career. What motivates him to play? How did this amazing journey start? Let us find out!
About Sharath Kamal
Sharath Kamal Achanta
Date of Birth
12 July, 1982
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Srinivasa Rao (L) & A Muralidhara Rao
Highest: 32 (May 2021) Current: 14 (April 2017). Won the men's singles gold in the 16th Commonwealth table tennis championship held at Kuala Lumpur in 2004.
First Indian table tennis player ever to become nine times Senior National Champion. In 2019 he was awarded received the Padma Shri. Arjun Awardee. Won the US Open Table Tennis Men's championships held at Grand Rapids, Michigan in July 2010. won the gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Father: Srinivas Rao. Mother: Annapurna
Daughter: 1 Son: 1
PSBB Nungambakkam school
Sharath Kamal Family
Sharath took up table tennis when he was just 4-years-old. His father and uncle introduced him to the game and have been his coaches for a significant period of time. They not only taught him the technicalities but also shaped him as a tough and grounded sportsman.
As a kid, Sharath was a little short on patience (just like most kids). So he always expected to win, did not take defeats in his stride, and couldn’t handle his frustration which led to some severe outbursts. This is where the mental conditioning of his father and uncle played a huge part. His uncle made some strict rules for Sharath. He learned to deal with his frustration without displaying it to his opponent.
Sharath Kamal Journey
Sharath’s journey as a professional table tennis player began in his 10th standard. As soon as he finished his 12th board, he started playing states. He first focused on becoming the number one table tennis player at the state level. He used to practice every day before school to stay in top form. It isn’t surprising then that Sharath has won 9 National titles!
In 2004, he won the gold in men’s singles at the 16th Commonwealth table tennis championship. Another of his memorable performance was at the US Open Table Tennis Men’s championships in 2010. He added another title in the same year, by winning the Egypt Open. With this feat, he became the first Indian to win a singles title on the ITTF Pro Tour.
Sharath has consistently been the top-ranked Indian table tennis player and has represented the country at the 2004 Olympics. He also took part in the 2006 Asian Games. Continuing his winning streak, he became the first Indian to win the Pyongyang Invitational Tournament in 2007.
Sharath Kamal Records
In 2008, he became the only Indian men’s table tennis player to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. Sharath represented India again at the Olympics in 2016. Unfortunately, he lost in the first round.
Sharath has a good Commonwealth Games record as well. He won the gold medal at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. In 2010, he won the men’s doubles gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. He added another 3 medals in his tally in 2018 at the Gold Coast CWG with gold in the men’s team event, silver in men’s doubles, and bronze in men’s singles.
In 2015, Sharath suffered a career-threatening hamstring injury. The injury was so bad that even the doctors were not sure if he’ll be able to play again. Sharath could not even stand properly on his right leg and was laid off for around eight months. He lost a lot of opportunities during this time.
However, more than just losing out on opportunities, the fear of not being able to play again was worse. With his immense willpower and the support of his physios and doctors, Sharath managed to completely recover and even qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Sharath has time and again mentioned how his family’s support has been his biggest strength. When he was plagued with an injury and was spirit-broken, his wife ensured that he got up and get back stronger. She took care of their daughter and managed all things at home to ensure that Sharath focuses completely on his game. The family had to make a lot of sacrifices but made sure to be by his side.
Interesting Facts about Sharath Kamal
- Sharath has become the national champion eight times. Kamlesh was the first and only other Indian table tennis player to achieve this feat.
- He is employed with the Indian Oil Corporation.
- The top-ranked Indian paddler is also playing in the European League. Currently, he is playing for the club Borussia Düsseldorf.
Sharath Kamal Controversy
Sharath was embroiled in a controversy inadvertently when he posted a picture of him eating only bread, Nutella, and muesli for dinner. It raised the issue of the lack of proper food for Asiad athletes. Sharath later clarified that the services were up to the mark. However, the matches used to get over very late and the dinner wasn’t served after 11 pm. Hence, Sharath had to settle for bread, Nutella, and muesli.
“Diet is a very important and integral part of our routine and it helps us to keep ourselves fresh, active, and strong,” Sharath told India Today.
India’s chef de mission Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh also clarified that there wasn’t any issue with the food served.
Sharath Kamal Interview: Awareness of Table Tennis
“Table tennis still has to get it’s due with regards to popularity and active steps have to be taken for that. Of course yes, the matches have to be shown on TV or at least internet streaming, so that people can watch and follow it,” Sharath Kamal told India Today.
In the last few years, things have changed considerably. However, table tennis still hasn’t received the recognition it deserves. Many players are hesitant to take it professionally due to this reason. Achievements of players like Sharath Kamal are inspiring others to take up the sport and we hope that the country produces many more Sharaths!
The Road Ahead
In the interview with India Today, Sharath further explained his goals and ambitions.
“I have been one of the best players from India for the last 15 years and played 13 national championship finals. I am always trying to be better and win on the international arena and that is the reason for winning that historic bronze medal at the Asian games in 2018. The motivation is to keep getting better and improving myself.”
Every tournament is an opportunity to perform better. Every match another chance. This positive attitude and outlook have enabled Sharath Kamal to consistently improve his game. The next mission is Tokyo 2020.
The ace paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal, who is currently ranked 33 in the world has said that he aimed to burst into the top 20 in 2019 and the next big thing on his mind was the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 36-year-old player also believes that the two table tennis bronze medals which India won at last year’s Asian Games held in Indonesia have given them the confidence that a medal at the 2020 Olympics was a possibility.
Sharath has started working hard to qualify for the games and get a podium finish. All the best Sharath! We are eager to see you make our country proud!
Sharath Kamal Achievements
- Padma Shri, 2019
- Arjuna Award, 2004
I feel overwhelmed and much obliged on being chosen for the prestigious and illustrious #PadmaShri award. It definitely makes me even more aware of my responsibilities towards the Sport and my commitment towards making my nation proud! ?????? pic.twitter.com/20jCfKJnpa
— Sharath Kamal (@sharathkamal1) January 26, 2019
|2006||Melbourne, Australia||Men’s Singles||Gold|
|2006||Melbourne, Australia||Men’s Team||Gold|
|2010||Delhi, India||Men’s Doubles||Gold|
|2010||Delhi, India||Men’s Team||Bronze|
|2018||Gold Coast, Australia||Men’s Team||Gold|
|2018||Gold Coast, Australia||Men’s Doubles||Silver|
|2018||Gold Coast, Australia||Men’s Singles||Bronze|
Sharath Kamal Social Media
Letting his? do all the talking, @sharathkamal1 just keeps the accolades coming! ?
— Star Sports (@StarSportsIndia) January 26, 2019
"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."#MondayMotivaton #Sports #TableTennis #ITTF #BetterThanEver pic.twitter.com/sE7Y65t90L
— Sharath Kamal (@sharathkamal1) December 10, 2018
This year just keeps on getting better as I have just achieved my career best ranking of #31. Thanks to all my coaches, @QLPSports , team mates the management and the fans for the constant support. Also would like to congratulate @manikabatra_TT on climbing to #55. pic.twitter.com/WMMZZdKZgf
— Sharath Kamal (@sharathkamal1) October 2, 2018
Throwback to January this year when I won the Senior National Table Tennis Championship for a record 8th time and equalled the feat of the legendary Kamlesh Mehta. While I'm always looking to set International benchmarks, it is always great to win titles in India. pic.twitter.com/bbnYUX0TQs
— Sharath Kamal (@sharathkamal1) September 13, 2018