Indian table tennis star Manika Batra became an instant darling of the nation when she became the first female paddler to win an individual gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
She had also led the women’s team to a maiden gold medal at the event and while the feat was monumental in itself, the occasion was made more memorable by Manika Batra painting her fingernails in the tricolour of the Indian national flag.
The Indian table tennis player also coloured her nails in saffron, white and green once more during her bronze run at the Asian Games a few months later.
And in a live session with Indian rally racer Garima Avtar on IOS Sports and Entertainment’s Instagram page, she explained why.
“When I hold the ball before serve, my eyes naturally go towards the nail and seeing the tricolour helped motivate and lift me up during a difficult period in matches,” revealed Manika Batra. “I also like to wear fancy earrings and moreover, I like to be stylish.”
“I’d also like to tell the women out there that be confident about your choices and not bother with societal perceptions, just be yourselves.”
Discipline, determination, hard work
Manika Batra started playing table tennis at the age of four and the Indian table tennis star relayed the importance of learning good habits in childhood that would help them in succeeding later.
“I believe childhood is the most important phase and it is essential that coaches teach them the right techniques and work ethic when they start off,” she stated. “Of course, discipline, determination, hard work and the never-say-die attitude are the traits I follow and would say are equally important.”
While she began paddling because of her siblings, Manika Batra claimed that she did not have a hero while growing up but has since found the nation’s biggest names in sport an inspiration.
“Sachin Tendulkar, PV Sindhu and especially Mary Kom are people I always follow and admire,” she said.
The list is capped off by arguably the best-known sporting superstar on the planet currently.
“I am also a big Cristiano Ronaldo fan. Before I go out to play any match, I watch some video of his online, be it a speech or anything else.”
Bollywood and tennis fandom
The Indian table tennis player is also a self-confessed Bollywood fan and when asked to pick out her favourite star, she did not have to think too long.
“I love Alia Bhatt. In fact, one of the things on my bucket list would be to spend an entire day with her,” she chuckled.
Manika Batra also revealed that tennis was her favourite sport to watch and that she was a religious person who liked to pray first thing in the morning.