Indian table tennis veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal has gathered 10 elite players from around the country to continue their preparations for the upcoming season in Chennai.
With a dearth of table tennis action, India’s table tennis veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal has decided to organise a mini camp for a select bunch of athletes in Chennai.
Having wrapped up the national camp for the core table tennis players in Sonepat on December 8 and with the first event of the season scheduled in the last week of February, Sharath Kamal hopes the mini camp will help keep the tempo.
“We sharpened a lot of things in the national camp after the long break; while pre-Diwali the focus was more on footwork, technique, movement and fundamental and foundation work, post-Diwali we went more into specifics like service,” Sharath Kamal told the Hindustan Times.
“Here we will focus more on match play. When you have a certain level of players to train with, you need to get the best out of each other and get into the match zone, strategy building, tactical play and specific things like that.”
The mini camp will run till January 13 at the table tennis hall of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with Chennai-based fitness centre Sports Dynamix helping the athletes with gym facilities.
The sessions will be monitored by Sharath Kamal’s father and Dronacharya awardee A Srinivasa Rao, his uncle and veteran coach Muralidhara Rao and brother Rajath Kamal.
Sharath Kamal, U-21 world No. 1 Manav Thakkar, Manush Shah, Arjun Ghosh, Anthony Amalraj and Vishwa Deenadayalan, among others, will form the playing group.
“It will be a group of around 10 including the local guys, so it’s a fair number of players,” world No. 32 Sharath Kamal said.
“I’ve also asked officials at the TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) for a masseur for our recovery. I’ve tried and covered most aspects of a camp. We will have a conference call with the coaches of the other players as well,” he added.
With the Indian contingent’s focus firmly fixed on making the Olympic cut, Sharath Kamal said that it was easy to get the athletes to travel to Chennai for another camp despite the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the country.
“In fact, they were the ones who convinced me, saying, Bhaiya, camp accha ho gaya, chalo aur ek baar karte hai (the camp went well, let’s do it once again),” the 38-year-old Sharath Kamal said.
The former Commonwealth Games champion also said that he had charted a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for the athletes that detailed things like restricted movements and in-room dining.
“I have asked them to not venture out too much from their rooms and not visit restaurants or supermarkets. I’m also asking them to always wear masks, except while playing. We will have to maintain all that and exercise caution,” Sharath Kamal stated.