However, neither of the Indian table tennis stars have ever played in the mixed doubles event and Achanta Sharath Kamal wanted to have a go with Manika Batra at the Games.
“Besides the singles, myself and Manika Batra have a fair chance to qualify in the mixed doubles,” the Chennai-based paddler told The Times of India. “Both of us have been playing really well.”
Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra are individually the best-ranked Indian table tennis players on the circuit and are a force to reckon with when they come together.
The pair had first teamed up in 2018 ahead of the Asian Games and enjoyed a fruitful run as they battled past tough opponents to win bronze, giving Achanta Sharath Kamal a coveted Asian Games medal, a lifelong dream for him.
For Manika Batra, the medal was an embellishment to an impressive 2018, where she had earlier played the leading role in giving the Indian table tennis women’s team multiple gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, a feat they achieved by breaking the Singapore team’s unbeaten streak.
The duo then played multiple World Tour events together, with their most recent run coming at the Hungarian Open earlier this year, where they reached the semi-finals. As a result, they broke into the mixed doubles top-20 rankings, a comfortable enough position to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
And with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing it to be shifted to 2021, Achanta Sharath Kamal wanted to maximise their preparations for a shot at a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I just hope there are a few more tournaments and the Olympic qualifiers so that we can have a chance at winning medals in Tokyo,” added the Indian table tennis ace.