Veteran table tennis player Sharath Kamal, Gnanasekaran Sathiyan, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Manika Batra have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics that starts from July 23 this year. Sathiyan qualified by finishing top of the South Asia group at the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament with two wins in as many matches.
Kamal, meanwhile, qualified on Thursday by virtue of being the highest-ranked second-placed player among the five groups.
Sutirtha, meanwhile, beat the higher-ranked Manika Batra 4-2 in the one-off match for a place in Tokyo. Commonwealth Games 2018 gold medallist Manika will go through as the highest-ranked second-placed player.
While Tokyo 2020 will be Kamal’s fourth appearance at the quadrennial event and second for Manika, it will be the first Olympics for Sathiyan and Suthirtha.
“A lot of things have happened since March 2020. I became the champion in Oman and was in good touch, was preparing to play the qualification match in Thailand in just two weeks and suddenly everything came to a standstill. I have achieved the best rankings of my career and it’s a huge sigh of relief especially the way this year has been. Though this will be my fourth Olympics, it will be my best Olympic Games," said Kamal.
Looking to secure double qualification, Kamal also cruised into the semi-finals in the mixed doubles semi-finals with Manika Batra after the pair defeated Mohammed Abdul Wahhab and Maha Faramarzi of Qatar 11-6, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 in the quarters. The star Indian pair, which received a bye in the first round, will now take on Koen Pang Yew En and Ye Lin of Singapore in the last-four match on Friday.
Originally set to be held from July 24 to August 9 last year, the Tokyo Olympics was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be held from July 23 to August 8 this year and the table tennis event will take place from July 24 to August 6.