Sharath Kamal returns to the groove at Senior National Camp for Table Tennis   

TTFI and SAI organised a 42-day long table tennis camp in Sonepat after a lengthy Covid break

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

Veteran India table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal was a relieved man after he completed the 42-day long stint at the senior national camp at the Delhi Public School in Sonepat.

The camp, organised by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI), came as a welcome return for the players, including Kamal, after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted sporting activities since mid-March.

The four-time Commonwealth Gold medallist was elated at his return to training, devoting all his energy to fitness and gym. During the camp, Kamal trained alongside Manav Thakkar who has been labelled as one of the future stars of Indian table tennis.

The camp consisted of nine paddlers, including Jeet Chandra, Sudanshu Grover and Anusha Kutumbale, and was overseen by three coaches.

Kamal felt that there was no rustiness among the paddlers and felt all the camp members were quick to jump into the rigours of training.

“It was nice to play again after a while and to get back into the groove. We had morning and evening sessions and some days devoted to fitness and gym,” Sharath told The Hindu.

“The COVID break wasn’t good in any way for us. It was great sparring with Manav [Thakkar], Jeet [Chandra] and Sudanshu Grover. We got into the match mode pretty quickly; we are hoping that competitions will start sooner than later.”

Achanta Sharath Kamal. Photo: ITTF.

Manav Thakkar was also pleased at how the camp progressed.

“It was not easy on the part of TTFI and Sports Authority of India (SAI) to organise a camp in COVID-19 situation. But they did a wonderful job. Everyone gave 100%. From day one to day 40, we saw a huge difference in our game. Sharath bhaiya guided us very well,” said Thakkar.

The Table Tennis contingent are yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Earlier this year, the hopes of both the Men's and Women's Indian teams were dashed as they failed to qualify for the Olympics in the team qualifying event held in Portugal in January 2020.

Their aim will now be to secure the singles and mixed doubles berths still up for grabs.

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) calendar has already resumed post the pandemic and the Indian paddlers will be desperate to restart their bid to qualify for the Olympics.