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Sharath, Manika to lead table tennis debut for India at Paris Olympics

The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) selection committee unveiled a six-member squad (three each for men and women) on Thursday, adhering to Olympic norms. Additionally, participants for the singles events were finalised.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: May 16, 2024, 04:53 AM - 3 mins read

Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra.

Sharath, Manika to lead table tennis debut for India at Paris Olympics

Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra.


The Indian table tennis contingent for the Paris Olympics is set, with veteran Sharath Kamal and World No. 24 Manika Batra poised to lead the charge in a historic first for the country - the team events. 

 

The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) selection committee unveiled a six-member squad (three each for men and women) on Thursday, adhering to Olympic norms. Additionally, participants for the singles events were finalised.

 

Kamal, a seasoned campaigner, will be joined by Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar in the men's team. Manika will spearhead the women's squad alongside Sreeja Akula and Archana Kamath. G. Sathiyan and Ayhika Mukherjee will serve as valuable backups as "Alternate Players" in their respective categories.

 

Sharath and Harmeet will shoulder the responsibility in the men's singles, while Manika and Sreeja will vie for glory in the women's competition. The selections were meticulously based on the latest world rankings.

 

This upcoming Parisian sojourn will mark a momentous occasion for 41-year-old Kamal, who will be making his fifth and final Olympic appearance, having debuted on the grand stage back in 2004. 

 

The selection process, adhering to pre-established TTFI criteria, saw three players practically "selecting themselves" through consistent performances and high world rankings.

 

However, a healthy debate arose regarding the women's team's third player. While Manika and Sreeja Akula secured their spots courtesy of their top-50 rankings, Archana Kamath (ranked 103) edged out Ayhika Mukherjee (133) for the final position. 

 

The Bengaluru paddler's superior ranking, along with other factorstilted the decision in her favour.

 

Sharath, the highest-ranked Indian at No. 40, led the men's contingent. Harmeet (No. 63) and Manav (No. 62) were separated by a mere slot in the world rankings. 

 

Despite both making the cut, the selectors favoured National champion Harmeet based on his international performance, reflected in a superior win-loss ratio, and his domestic achievements.

 

The presence of Massimo Costantini as a special invitee at the selection meeting proved to be a significant factor. 

 

The esteemed foreign expert's insights played a crucial role in finalising the squads. Costantini, returning for his third stint as the Indian team coach, arrived in India earlier this week and will formally take charge soon.

 

Alternate players Sathiyan and Ayhika will be part of the travelling contingent but will not be housed in the official Games Village. Their inclusion serves as a safety net in case of unforeseen injuries.

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