The Olympic preparation of Indian table tennis received the much-needed boost on Friday when rowing star Manica Batra agreed to join the national camp in Sonepat to train with mixed doubles partner and veteran Sharat Kamal.
Earlier, both Manika and G Sathiyan had expressed their inability to attend the camp, preferring to continue training in Pune and Chennai with their coaches, respectively.
It was a major failure to build India for the July-August Olympics, where India has a chance for a medal, albeit a slight one, for the first time since winning the mixed doubles qualifying event.
The preparation is far from ideal anyway due to the limitations associated with COVID-19. The team also does not have a head coach from the 2018 Asian Games.
While Satian’s availability for the camp, starting on June 20, remains uncertain, Manica has informed TTFI that she will travel to Sonepat with her personal trainer Sanmai Parangpe.
“She said ‘yes’ to the camp visit, putting the country first. We appreciate that. We also received the SAI’s approval for the camp.
“Our best chance is in mixed doubles, so the preparation of Manika and Sharat is becoming very important. I hope they get a lot out of the camp,” TTFI MP Singh told PTI.
In addition to Manica, Sharat and Satyan, Sutirta Mukherjee also qualified for the Olympics, making it India’s largest representation in the summer sports.
About 16 people will be part of the camp from June 20 to July 5, including 12 players and four support staff. They will all undergo an RT-PCR test on arrival on June 17 and will undergo a rapid antigen test every day from the first day of camp.