Manika Batra sets sights at 2024 Olympics

The Asian Age.  | Ahmar Wasif

Sports, In Other sports

Manika made history last year by clinching four golds in the 2018 CWG, one of which being a singles gold.

Manika Batra

Face of the Indian women’s table tennis, Manika Batra on Saturday said she was more focussed for a singles medal at the 2024 Olympics instead of taking pressure for next year’s Tokyo Games. “All the paddlers are working hard for the 2020 Olympics and if we play our best and are lucky, we will win a medal. But I don’t want to put pressure on myself for 2020, I am aiming for a singles medal at the 2024 Games,” Manika said on the sidelines of Ultimate Table Tennis.

Manika made history last year by clinching four golds at the 2018 Commonwealth Games including a singles gold. Apart from that, the much talked about pair of Manika and Achanta Sharath Kamal also went on to claim the bronze medal at the Asian Games, making them the first ever pair to win a medal for the country in table tennis.

Manika, who will be paired with experienced Sharath for Olympics as well, said the duo has a great understanding and if they practice more, they would definitely be in the running for the medal at the Tokyo Games. “We are a good pair and are desperate to get an Olympic medal in the event and winning the Asian Games medal has definitely boosted our confidence for the Olympics.

“I think if we practice more and more, we will definitely be one of the contenders of the medal. Practice is the most important key right now and we will be practicing for mixed doubles before the Asian Championship and the Grand Finale. We are also considering going to Europe and practice together”, she added.

Working without a coach for a year, Dejan Papic’s appointment as the new national coach would be a helpful step for the team in doubles events feels the world number 56.

“Individually every player has it’s own training so not having a coach may not have that much effect on the singles game but when it comes to doubles, a team has to have a coach in order to put the game on right track.

“The previous coach (Massimo Constantini) was with us for a long time so he knew every player’s game. It would be difficult for us as well as the new coach to gel with each other in such less time. But I’m confident that we will make it and give our best in the games,” Manika said.

Recently she left her childhood Sandeep Gupta for Sanmay Paranjape to “explore something new” and the Delhi lass was happy with the move. The 24-year-old now shifted her base to Pune to train with new coach.

“My training is going perfect and in right direction. I have beaten Korean and Chinese players, so I’m quite happy with the results I’m getting with the new coach.”

She added, “I’m working on changing my playing style because everyone is now analysing my game and players used to play on my forehand knowing that it’s my weaker area. I am working a lot on it and trying to switch from backhand to forehand while finishing the ball.”