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Monday, September 20, 2021

Sharath Kamal: The veteran with several firsts seeks maiden Olympic medal

Sharath Kamal, who is the first paddler to win both Arjuna Award and Padma Shri, will be representing India in table tennis for a record fourth time in the Olympics in Tokyo.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: July 23, 2021 12:31:31 pm
Sharath Kamal became the first Indian to win a professional TT title in 2010.

Milestone:

Four Commonwealth Games gold medals, two bronze medals in Asian Games

At Olympics: 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing and 2016 Rio

Family:

A. Srinivasa Rao (father) and Annapoorna (mother)

Achanta Sharath Kamal, who hails from Chennai, has several firsts to his name after getting the chance to represent the country in table tennis for the record fourth time, he holds a record nine national men’s championship titles, first paddler to win both Arjuna Award and Padma Shri, the highest sporting and civilian honours in the country, and plies his trade in European leagues and is based in Germany for the major part of his life.

In 2010, he became the first Indian to win a pro TT title when he triumphed in Egypt Open. From the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne till 2018 in Gold Coast, he has won four gold, one silver and three bronze medals in all categories: men’s singles, men’s doubles, team and mixed doubles.

He comes from the coaching family of Rao brothers – Srinivasa and Muralidhara and his younger brother, Rajat, too was a national level player. The Raos trainees include Olympian Chetan Baboor, B. Bhuvaneswari, then National No.1, K Shamini a CWG medallist among others.

Sharath partnered Manika Batra of Delhi and won a historic mixed doubles bronze medal in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games which is dominated by the Chinese, the Olympic hosts’ Japan and Koreans proving that Indians can climb the podium in Asiad.

At the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday, the Indian pair will take on third-seeded Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Chin in the first-round match. The Taipei pair – a left-right combo – of Lin is ranked No. 6 in the world while Cheng is ranked No. 8 and can be tough too.

In the men’s singles, Sharath got a first-round bye and will take on the winner of the match between Tiago Apolonia of Portugal and Olajide Omotayo of Nigeria next round. He is likely to face the reigning Olympic champion Ma Long of China. This will be the third meeting between the top-ranked Indian at 32 and the second seed in this Olympics. In both 2011 and 2012, the Chinese won.

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