- Feb 23, 2024
- Jul 24, 2022
When it comes to veterans in Cricket we associate Sachin Tendulkar, likewise when it comes to table tennis the first person that comes to mind is Sharath Kamal. He is still making waves at the age of 40 and has already achieved a lot in his career. He endured a lot of struggles during the pandemic and could have stopped playing, but he is someone who has a lot of dedication and perseverance. The table tennis star has big goals even after playing the sport for a long time.
He clinched 3 Gold Medals at the Commonwealth Games 2022, which included an individual gold medal, which gave him immense joy and relief. The star player had a hectic schedule at the CWG, but that has not affected him one bit. He is not resting on past laurels and is already mapping out future plans.
“My next target is the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. I wasn’t sure about winning so many medals at CWG but after bagging three gold medals, my motivation level shot up. Now my primary focus will be the Paris Games,” Sharath, who returned to the city on Thursday morning, told TOI.
On an uncertain journey from the 2020 pandemic to the CWG podium, Sharath said, “It was probably the toughest phase of our lives. I call it the toughest because it was full of uncertainties. At 37, I wasn’t sure what to do next. It was like driving a car in the darkness. It was more of a mental blow than physical. But I didn’t lose heart and kept exploring the options and resources that were available near me. I am thankful to the people who stood by me during that phase. I would not have achieved this without their help.”
“Keeping the mind in shape was as big a battle in the last couple of years. It was a huge mental blow for all of us and like others It was a huge mental blow for all of us and unlike others, I was convinced that if I want to return to the court with full vigour, I’ll have to make use of this situation. I felt so clueless that I had to seek help from mental toughness coaches. I contacted Dr. Swarup from Pune and worked with him for 8 months and then Dr. Gayatri Varthak who guided me so well. I am still working with Gayatri and I am thankful to both of them for their help during the tough situation,” he added.
The India paddlers have gone through a tough phase as the Table Tennis Federation of India got into legal hurdles when the overall situation of the game wasn’t good. When asked if it caused any extra pressure on the players in the last two years Sharath said they had no other option but to follow the orders of the federation.
A Full-time coach was not available for the players since 2018. “Yes, the timing was bad but as a player, I didn’t have much of a say in this. We followed what was told by the concerned authorities. But, of course, it was difficult for us to continue with a full-time coach,” he stated.
When asked if Sharath would make history again in CWG four years later, The seasoned campaigner said: “It’s too early to comment on that. As I mentioned, I am focusing on the Paris Games and will start my preparation soon. I will also try to take part in as many international tournaments as possible to keep myself going until the Paris Olympics and will take a call on my career after that.”