Sharath looking for a fresh start

03-07-2017
DH

One of the most successful male table tennis players of the country, Sharath began the year by clinching his seventh national title in January. The Tamil Nadu paddler then reached the semifinals of the Indian Open in February. Following a promising start, he bowed out fighting in the round of 32 at the World Championship in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

Turning 35 this month, Sharath is in the final phase of a career spanning over a decade and the Indian’s next goal is to win the gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia next year. 

On a short visit to Bengaluru, Sharath spoke to the media on the upcoming Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league in India, the return of coach Massimo Constantini and more. Excerpts: 

On UTT: I will turn out for the RP-SG Mavericks team and Archana Kamath, Amrutha Pushpak and Birdie Boro are my team-mates. These young players will train with some of the top foreign coaches and players of the world throughout the league. This (international exposure) was one of the reasons why I travelled to Europe but now the best of the resources is going to be available in India. We have to build a bigger knowledge-base of the game in our country. Currently we have the knowledge-base in small pockets but we need to spread the knowledge among coaches and players.

On changes in his game: After I suffered a hamstring injury two years ago, I worked a lot on my fitness. Also I have shifted my base back to Chennai. For a long time I was in Germany. Since I am with my family, I am more relaxed in my head and more focused during the training. As far as my game is concerned, my backhand has developed. Earlier, I had issues with my backhand and that’s why my career took a slight slide. New-age table tennis is all about a strong backhand.

On future goals: The Commonwealth Games next year is my first goal. I want to win at least one gold, be it in singles, doubles or team event. I don’t have my wife’s permission to think about the next Olympics (laughs). After 2018, I want to take one year at a time and I intend to give more time to my family. 

On coach Constantini: I would say he is very lucky. When he first coached in 2008, myself and national players like Soumyajit Ghosh were in our prime. Currently, the youngsters who have played for India are in their prime. So it’s a good time to coach India. It will be nice to work with him again. 

On the emerging players on the wom en’s circuit: Archana Kamath has been doing really well. Constantini feels youngsters like Manika Batra and Ayhika Mukherjee are highly talented. 

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