On Friday, star paddler Manika Batra decided to attend the national camp in Sonepat to practice with mixed doubles partner and veteran Sharath Kamal, giving the Indian table tennis contingent a much-needed boost in their Olympic preparations.
Manika and G Sathiyan had previously declared their inability to attend the camp, preferring to continue working with their instructors in Pune and Chennai, respectively. That was a major blow in India’s preparations for the Olympic Games in July-August, when India has a medal chance, though a slim one, after winning the mixed doubles qualifying tournament.
Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, the preparation has been far from optimal. Since the 2018 Asian Games, the squad has been without a head coach. Although Sathiyan’s availability for the camp, which starts on June 20, is unsure, Manika has confirmed to TTFI that she will be travelling to Sonepat with her coach, Sanmay Paranjpe.
In addition to Manika, Sharath, and Sathiyan, Sutirtha Mukherjee has also qualified for the Olympics, giving India their largest representation in the sport at the Summer Games.
From June 20 to July 5, a total of 16 persons will attend the camp including 12 players and four support staff. All of them will undergo an RT-PCR test when they will arrive on June 17. From day one of the camp, they will undergo rapid antigen test daily.