Interview with Manika Batra: “I don’t want to go to Rio Olympics and return without a medal”

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Many people are making a career of table tennis in India. Table tennis has seen a steady improvement over the past few years. Manika Batra, who is also working hard to achieve this goal, is no exception.

This top-ranked Indian captivated us with her stunning performance. She won three gold medals at the recently concluded 12th South Asian Games.

This 20-year old girl from Delhi proved once more that she is one of the top ping pong player in India. It was heartening to witness Manika’s never-say-die attitude. Manika has her sights set on Rio 2016 Olympics and will keep striving for greater heights as long as she continues to play.

In an exclusive interview, the country’s most beloved paddler discusses her passion for the game.

These are some excerpts:

Q. When did you first start playing table tennis?

Even before I was born, my elder sister played. At the age of 5, I began playing. I was 5 years old when I started playing. She was a great influence on me and has always encouraged me to do better.

Q. You’ve been around a lot of senior people and you’re only 20 years old. What have you learned?

They have taught me a lot. They have been there for me over the years and helped me grow my game. My strength and support throughout my entire career was provided by Neha Agarwal and Mouma Das.

Q: Share some highlights from your career. What is the feeling like winning?

This year, I won two silver and two bronze medals at the Commonwealth Championship. I was also a quarterfinalist in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The feeling of winning is incredible, to be honest.

It was an honor to win three gold medals at the South Asian Games. In the near future, I plan to win more medals on behalf of India.

Q: Who are your main rivals in India?

My competitors are all the top five ranked paddlers from India. They are all talented, and I am determined to improve my game every day.

Q: Do you prefer more practice or more matches? Which one is better?

It is more important to practice. You need to be both skilled and confident as a player. You cannot win a game if you don’t feel confident even if you’re 9-10 down.

Q. Have you ever been tempted to travel overseas to play table-tennis?

This year, I may go to Germany and Austria.

Q. Has your real life been difficult?

It is difficult to represent the country in a less-followed sport. It is a hard job, but I know that if India represents India at the Olympics, I will win medals.

Q. What are your 2016 goals?

I want to increase my World Ranking 160 to top 50 paddlers. This is my immediate goal. This month, I will be competing in the World Championships held in Malaysia and hoping to win a gold medal.

The Olympic qualifiers are next. I don’t want to go to Rio and return without a medal.

Q. Who are you inspired?

Sachin Tendulkar is the only one. Saina Nehwal is someone I admire and who inspires me.

Q. Which tournament is your favorite?

In 2008, I began representing India. Chile Open is very dear to my heart. I beat the World No. I defeated the World No. 6 there, and that was my greatest win to date.

Q. What are your main concerns for Indian paddlers?

One of the main problems we face is a lack of media coverage. People focus less on India’s performance in Cricket, even when they perform well.

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