Written by Shradha Chauhan and Aman Kumar
THREE MONTHS ago, when 23-year-old Delhi girl Manika Batra scored a pulsating win over Mengyu Yu of Singapore in the women’s table tennis individual final, Batra became the first-ever Indian woman paddler to achieve the feat. Earlier in the games, Batra’s win over world number 4 Tianwei feng of Singapore in the women’s team final had set up Indian women’s team’s win over Singapore and the Delhi girl is raring to go for the upcoming Asian Games.
“I have been practising under my coach Sandeep Gupta in Delhi and after participating in the National Ranking Tournament in Indore, I will be playing in Platinum Pro tour in Korea and Australia. After these two tournaments, the Indian team will undergo a training camp before the Asian Games and my focus will be to improve my world ranking before the Asian Games. Winning the individual gold medal after win over world number 4 Tianwei Feng of Singapore in the semi-finals was a special feeling and it will add to my confidence. The fact that we also won the women’s team gold medal apart from women’s doubles silver medal will put us in better shape ahead of Asian Games. Asian Games will see tough competition as there are teams like China, Korea, Japan and Singapore but I will try to give my best,” said Batra, who is currently ranked 81 in world rankings.
Batra was playing in her first national ranking tournament post the CWG success and claimed the women’s title in the North Zone National Ranking Table Tennis Tournament at Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex with a 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 8-11, 14-1 win over Kritwika Sinha Roy of Bengal on Tuesday. Batra had won the title win in North Zone National Ranking tournament in Noida last year too. Roy had three match points in the final but Batra fought her way hard to emerge as the winner. The Delhi player termed playing in national tournaments important.
When asked about seeing a movie based on her life, Batra said it is still early days in her career. “Winning at zonal and national tournaments is important as well since the level of competition in such tournaments is very good. Winning against players like Kritika, Sanya and Madhurika, all of whom are international players too adds to the momentum. The wins in Commonwealth Games did boost my confidence and I believe the sport has got more attention post our CWG success. I would like this to grow further and hopefully more and more kids would opt for table tennis. More people will see the potential of the sport and if more people show interest in the game, it will be good for the players and sport itself. Regarding the biopic, of course I would like to see a movie being made. But it is just the beginning of my career. I want to be focused and my dream is to win an Olympic medal for the country,” said Batra, who had scored a win over Mengyu Yu of Singapore to claim the individual gold in CWG,” said Batra, who was also accompanied by her mother Sushma Batra.
Meanwhile, world number 3 in U-18 category, Manav Thakkar of PSPB emerged as the champion in the men’s singles as well as youth category. In the men’s final, Thakkar scored a 11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4 win over S Snehit of Telangana after he registered a 11-7, 11-3, 11-3, 9-11, 11-6 win over Ronit Bhanja to claim the men’s youth title. The youngster too is a part of the Indian team for Asian Games and sounded confident ahead of the games. “It feels good to win both the titles. I lost in one of the categories last year but wining twin titles will add to my confidence ahead of the Asian Games. Playing in Korea and Australia before the Asian games will also help my game,” said Thakkar, who belongs to Surat.