India’s new table tennis sensation Sutirtha Mukherjee has stated the need to improve her fitness ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which start in July. The 25-year-old is one of four Indian paddlers who will represent the country at the sports’ grandest stage in the July 23 to August 8 event.
The youngster made headlines on March 18 in Doha when she defeated much-fancied compatriot Manika Batra 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4 in the only Asian qualifiers group match.
“It’s a dream come true moment for me. I had a dream to represent India at the Olympics and to achieve that it’s a surreal feeling altogether,” Sutirtha Mukherjee told exclusively to Sportskeeda after returning to India. “I would have qualified for the 2016 Rio Games but that couldn’t happen. “
“From that time I had a target to qualify for the sports’ grandest stage, and to book my spot in Tokyo Olympics is a great feeling. I have three months in hand and want to improve on my fitness. I am looking for sponsors now so that I can go abroad and train,” she added.
Sutirtha Mukherjee aims to break into top 50 in the world
Surtirtha Mukherjee first arrived on the international scene during the 2013 Junior World Championship, losing out in the first round of both singles and doubles events. Following that, Sutirtha Mukherjee has participated in several international competitions gaining more on the skill-set and experience.
“I had no vision earlier. I was ranked above 500 and Soumyadeep Roy (India coach) gave me small targets to achieve and that’s how I improved my game and rankings. Last year I made it to the top 100 and now I am aiming to break into top 50 in the world,” said Sutirtha, who has a women’s team gold at the 2018 CWG.
“When I broke into top 100 last year, I got a feeling that I too have the ability to compete against the best in the world. I can see myself in the top 30 in the future and beat anyone in the world,” stated the World N0.95 Sutirtha Mukherjee.
Much of the credit also goes to Sutirtha Mukherjee’s parents, especially her mother Nita Mukherjee, who sacrificed everything to support her daughter in reaching this level.
“When I grabbed that winning point against Manika Batra, the first thought that came to my mind was my mother’s contribution and sacrifice in making me what I am today. The way my mother left everything behind to be with me all the time supporting, it can’t be described in words,” Surtirtha Mukherjee stated.
“Not only my mother but also my father, childhood coach Mihir Ghosh, current coaches Soumyadeep Roy and Poulomi Ghatak, they all have equal credits in my success till now,” added Sutirtha Mukherjee.
Sutirtha Mukherjee's father Avijit Mukherjee was also elated at his daughter's achievements.
“Honestly, we were tense before her match against Manika Batra. Manika is a very good player and the fact it was an India versus India match, made us more nervous. Her Olympics qualification is a dream come true moment for us and if she can perform well in Tokyo that will be huge,” he said.
Sutirtha Mukherjee, who plies her trade for U Mumba TT in Ultimate Table Tennis, also made a special mention of the Haryana Table Tennis Association for their ongoing support.
“I am also thankful to Haryana Table Tennis Association, MP Singh (HTTA Secretary) and Dushyant Chautala (TTFI president and Haryana Deputy CM) for the support they have provided to me,” she stated.
With just a few months left, Surtirtha Mukherjee wants to play more matches and if possible, train abroad. But that will only depend if she is able to get a good sponsor. Hergoalt is to put in a memorable performance for India at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Soumyadeep Roy and Poulomi Ghatak have been my driving force from the start and will be so in the future. The way they will instruct me, I will follow that routine in terms of training and tournament wise. My target would be performing at my top potential, to put in a memorable performance for India that no one has done before,” Sutirtha Mukherjee concluded.