Touching 40s, India’s TT great Sharath Kamal hits peak ahead of Tokyo Olympics

New Delhi, Jul 15 (PTI): A Sharath Kamal thought the Olympics in Tokyo would be his fourth and last but considering that he has never felt better and fitter in his career spanning almost two decades, the 39-year-old Indian table tennis great is reconsidering his future plans now.
Speaking to PTI two days before his departure for the Tokyo Games, the world number 32 finds himself at the peak of his game.
Earlier, the goal was to stop after the 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games for the sake of his young family but he can’t rule himself out from the Paris Olympics in 2024. He says if Germany’s world number 10 Timo Boll can play in his 40s, he can too.
“According to my wife, this is my last Olympics (laughs), but let’s see how the body holds up till the CWG and Asian Games next year. I feel I am at the peak of my game physically as well as mentally,” he said. Sharath has missed only one Olympic Games (London 2012) since his debut at Athens in 2004. Every time he has been a part of the sporting extravaganza, he has gained something.
“I remember Athens 2004, I didn’t know how to prepare at all. 2008 Beijing I slowly understood what was required at that level and 2016 I prepared really well but didn’t get the results unfortunately, also I was coming from an injury (hip).
“This time I feel I have gotten better as a player and my rankings reflect that. In 2016, my game was at a level where I could not play the round of 16 or the quarterfinals in the Olympics. But now on a good day, I can do that.”
Sharath ended a decade long wait for an ITTF title, before the COVID-19-induced break in March last year, with a win at the Muscat Open. His previous title had come way back in 2010.
“I got to 30th in the world rankings in 2019 but in the last couple of years, I feel at the top of my game, beating so many top level players consistently. In 2010, I played well but I wasn’t this consistent.
“Game wise, body wise, I am in the right space. Now I have understood how the mind reacts, how to handle pressure and anxiety. Physically, I have really worked hard to be here,” said Sharath who is feeling good about his prospects in Tokyo after a 25-day national camp in Sonepat.

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