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Even at 40, Padmasree & Arjuna awardee Sharath Kamal dreams of Olympics medal

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Ultimate Dream of Sharath Kamal

He has achieved almost everything a table tennis player in India can visualize. He has won medals in Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and Asian Championships. He is the only paddler so far to have broken Kamlesh Mehta’s 8-time senior national title and inscribed 10-time senior national title beside his name. He has achieved the fourth highest civilian award Padmasree and then Arjuna. His latest success was in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games this year. He has returned with three gold medals from the multi-event competition. Still, Achanta Sharath Kamal does not seem complacent with all these laurels. Even at the age of 40 India’s most successful paddler in recent times, daydreams of the most desired medal from the Olympics. Talking over the phone from his residence in Chennai, Sharath said,

“I bowed out of the Tokyo summer Olympics in 2020, losing in the round of 32. Winning a medal in the Olympics has always been my dream. From that perspective I can say, the Paris summer Olympics in 2024 is my current mission.”

Chance factor

Asked whether he can achieve a medal in such a difficult event as the Olympics, Sharath explained,

“It is difficult. But at the same time, it is possible also to reach that standard where medals can be earned. In that case, our team has to be extremely consistent as we were in the 2018 Asian Games.” Sharath asserted that the Indian team comprising Sathiyan and Harmeet and himself has been the best in recent times and he claimed, “If we can maintain the consistency, both physically and on the board then it will not be impossible for us to reach that standard to win medals.”

Basic Difference

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When asked about the basic difference in performance between the best Indian paddlers and the best international paddlers, especially compared to Chinese, Japanese, or Korean paddlers, Sharath had an excellent clarification saying,

“The lacking of education in various fields such as sports, health, sanitation, modern infrastructure, perfect grass route programs to search for talent has been the key reasons. You need to develop such an ideal system that will create champions at the international level. However, the development here in Indian table tennis is also on. We are progressing. It needs some time to produce paddlers of international standard.”

Upcoming Preparation of Sharath Kamal

Looking forward to the Paris Olympics in 2024, Sharath has already planned to train and play in competitions in Germany. He said,

“Germany is like my second home. I already have played for the premier German club Dusseldorf previously. This time I am all set to go there and play league matches and other competitions. Playing against some of the world’s best players help me a lot to improve the standard of my game. But this time I have also planned to train and play competitions somewhere in South-East Asia.”

Psychological Strength

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Sharath has been working with one of the experienced sports psychologists Gayatri Vartak for the last three years. Gayatri was once a badminton player. Sharath described,

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“The sports psychologists’ job is to make you aware of your situation all the time. Especially, when you will be under mental pressure that time you need to be aware of the situation and combat it mentally, giving your best.”

Influence of Kamlesh Mehta

Sharath Kamal has been the lone Indian paddler to have broken Kamlesh Mehta’s record of winning the senior national championship eight times. Still, the 10-time senior national champion was extremely modest and humble while commenting on Kamlesh. He stated,

“He has a big influence on me. I worked with him as a pure student when he was our coach in Asian Games and Olympics. I have learnt a lot from him. He is simply magnificent as both a player and a coach. I noticed a rare quality in his game. That was the ability to read the opposition’s plans. All of us who have got his guidance have tried to learn this skill.” 


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