Indian table tennis has never been stronger: Achanta Sharath Kamal

Achanta sealed an Olympic spot last week, after defeating Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan 

India's number one Men's paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal was elated after entering the world's top 32 towards the begining of 2015. However, an untimely hamstring injury saw him out of the sport for close to eight months, inadvertently denting his Olympic qualification chances with just a year remaining.

Despite being bed-ridden for six months, the 33-year old made a monumental comeback last week. A dramatic 4-3 victory against Iran's Noshad Alamiyan at stage two of the Asian qualifier sealed a much elusive Olympic berth for Achanta, who missed out four years ago in London.

Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, he said, “I started my preparation for Rio four years ago when I missed the 2012 London Olympic Games keeping in mind that I not only need to qualify, but I need to perform at the Rio games.”

He added, “Things were running in the right direction, when all of a sudden the hamstring injury had to come at the peak of my performances. I was 32 on the world we it happened and I was laid off for more than six months. And from there I had to start all of it all over again. Things were hard after the injury, but now I am happy that I can perform at Rio.”

Disappointed with 2012 result, but aim is at least a quarter-final finish: Achanta

Still disappointed wiith the failure to qualify for the 2012 edition, Achanta attributes his success to Bundesliga side Borussia Dusseldorf, who has represented for the past three years. He added, “Right from the operation to Rehab, everything was done by my club and they dealt it in a very professional way. Thanks to them, I am able to continue to follow my Olympic dream.”

Achanta also went onto add his family's role in the qualification, he said, “I keep speaking to my wife and daughter during tournaments as that is a big stress buster. Even though my wife knows the importance of these matches, she tries to avoid talking about them. so that my mind is diverted and I am more relaxed.”

Currently ranked 61st in the world, the Chennai-born paddler is aiming for at least a quarter-final finish in Rio. He added, “Last edition I participated in I reached the third round and I guess that has been the best by any Indian so far. But this time I would like to win two more rounds which mean a quarter-final finish. I have prepared quite hard for that and hopefully I can make it.”

He will now return to Dusseldorf to complete his final preparations for the extravaganza. Achanta will be in Europe till July, before playing a few Asian tournaments in June.

Apart from him, Soumyajit Das, Mouma Das and Manika Batra are the others to secure a Rio Olympic berth. He said, “Things have been moving in the right direction for us and for this moment I could accept that it's been the best phase but there's still lot more to come in the future years. This is just the begining.”Both the Men's and Women's national teams also won the World Championship division two, earlier this year.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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