Sharath Kamal quandary as Asian qualification and Star Contender dates overlap

The paddler has a chance to qualify for Tokyo if he reaches the final of the Asian Qualification tournament 

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

Sharath Kamal is in a spot of bother as the dates of two international table tennis tournaments are clashing with each other. The WTT-Star Contender is slated to take place from March 6 to 13 in Doha, whereas the Asian qualification will take place between March 13 and 15.

Hence, Sharath has written to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) seeking clarification regarding his participation.

“There is a problem there,” Sharath told Sportstar. "What if I reach the semifinals of Star Contender on March 13? Then how can I compete in the Asian tournament which starts on the same dates? If TTFI asks me to skip the Star Contender and play in Asian tournament, I have no choice. But playing in Star Contender will help me improve my world rankings."

If participating in the Star Contender will help him better his ranking then the Asian qualification hands him the opportunity to book his berth for Tokyo 2020 as the winner of the tournament will directly qualify for the Olympics.

Considering the player field at the Asian qualification tournament, there is a good chance of Sharath and G Sathiyan ending up in an all-Indian final.

The runners-up at the event will also have a fair chance of qualifying for Tokyo as, amongst players who finish in the second position in all regional qualification events, one of them will make the cut based on the world rankings.

Sharath and Sathiyan are currently ranked 32 and 37 in the world respectively.

Moreover, if the duo reaches the final, then they can even skip the World singles qualification, which is lined up immediately after the Asian qualification from March 16 in Doha.

“We should make it in men’s singles,” Sharath and Sathiyan added.

Both the paddlers will be eager to exorcise the ghost of the 2020 ITTF World Team qualification tournament held in Gondomar, Portugal where they were ousted by Luxembourg in Round of 32 after losing all three matches.

Sharath is also gunning for a mixed doubles spot with partner Manika Batra, who along with Sutirtha Mukherjee is set to compete in women's singles of the Asian qualification event.