CHENNAI: Age is just a number for Achanta Sharath Kamal. Come this July, the world No 32 paddler will be 39, but that could not stop him from eyeing his 10th national men’s title. Sharath began his campaign on Sunday with an easy 4-0 win over Abinay Vijay Babu in round of 64. In an exclusive chat with TNIE, Sharath said the nationals is very important for the players as this will be their first competition in almost a year.
Q: How important is the nationals, after lockdown?
The Nationals has always been a very important tournament, and this year, particularly post the lockdown, this is going to be the first tournament. Post the nationals, we have the Olympic qualifiers coming up in Qatar and the national championships will be a good testing ground for all the players who will go for the Olympic qualifiers. And a special mention about TTFI for coming forward and organising the national championships through which we will get the much-needed match practice before these very important tournaments.
Q: How are your preparations for the nationals?
My preparation for the nationals hasn’t been very specific as I am more focused on the international events post this tournament and of course the Olympic qualifiers. So as part of the regime, the national championships will help me find my mental form and sharpness which is necessary to have an edg e in the Olympi c qualifiers.
Q: Will the camp you had at your academy be helpful in shedding the rust. Did you have match practice?
Since January, I had invited a few players to practice with me in Chennai. During these training sessions, we were more focused on match practice. So now after six weeks of intense preparation which includes strategy building, sharpening of skill set, video analysis and mental conditioning, I am now ready for the matches.
Q: How do you reinvent and motivate yourself ?
A: For any sportsperson, it is very important to stay motivated, as over the years I have achieved a lot of accolades for our country but I am still trying to get better and continue to improve myself. Post the 2018 Asian Games where we won a medal for the first time in 60 years, my goal is to win an Olympic medal which keeps me motivated.
Q: Tournaments you will be playing before Olympics?
A: As of now, Qatar will organise two world ranking tournaments in March from 1-6 and 8-13. None of the other tournaments are confirmed. The world Olympic qualifiers will be in Doha from March 14-17. The Asian Olympic qualifie rs are from March 18-20 in Doha.
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