Sharath Kamal is awaiting a final word from the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) on his proposal to have training
sessions with his mixed doubles partner Manika Batra ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
In the background of Manika declining to join Sharath in Chennai for a camp and also staying away from the National camp held in Sonepat late last year, it remains to be seen how TTFI plans to deal with the Pune-based National champion.
Sharath, a qualifier in the Olympics singles draw as well, has engaged the services of youngsters Manush Shah and Sudhanshu Grover as sparring partners in Chennai till April 18.
Meanwhile, the Mission Olympics Cell of the Sports Authority of India on Wednesday, approved financial assistance of Rs. 1.26 lakh (plus local transport) to Sharath for inviting Shah and Grover for 21 days to Chennai. It was also decided to include Olympic qualifier Sutirtha Mukherjee in the TOPS Core team until this year’s Olympic Games.
Elaborating on his plans, Sharath said, “From April 20, I would like to focus on the preparations for mixed doubles with Manika. I have suggested to the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to hold a preparatory camp (for the four qualifiers, including G. Sathiyan and Sutirtha).”
When asked about the possibility of sparring with left-handers in the camps, for both singles and mixed doubles, Sharath said, “I plan to add Sanil Shetty to the proposed TTFI camp. Since in our country, we don’t have left-handed lady players of good playing strength, we (Sharath and Manika) will practice against male players.”
The recently-elected Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TTFI, Dhanraj Choudhary said Sonepat or Bangalore could be the venue of the preparatory camp.
“We are looking only at air-conditioned facilities to hold the camp and a decision will be taken in the TTFI Executive Board meeting within a week,” said Mr. Choudhary.