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Manika Batra: Here Are a Few Lesser Known Facts About The Star Paddler

Manika Batra refused to have the national coach courtside during her singles matches. (AFP Photo)

Manika Batra refused to have the national coach courtside during her singles matches. (AFP Photo)

Here is everything you need to about Indian table tennis star Manika Batra.

India’s ace table tennis player Manika Batra was on Wednesday, September 15, left out of the Indian squad for the upcoming Asian Championships, which are scheduled to commence from September 28, in Doha, Qatar. The move to drop the star paddler comes after Batra failed to attend the mandatory national camp in Sonepat, Haryana.

The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) had made attending the camp mandatory following the Indian contingent’s performance at the Tokyo Olympics. The federation had made it clear that any player not attending the camp will not be considered for selection. The team was picked on Wednesday and details were subsequently published on its website.

Apart from this, the 26-year-old had recently declared that she will not train under the national coach and instead opt for a personal coach by her side. She had also alleged that the national coach Soumyadeep Roy had asked her to ‘drop matches’ purposely during the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers in March.

Meanwhile, in the absence of Batra, compatriot Sutirtha Mukherjee, currently ranked 97 in the world, will lead the Indian women’s team. Ayikha Mukhjerjee (ranked 131) and Archana Kamath (132) among others are also part of the Indian contingent heading to Doha.

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Speculations and allegations aside, not many know that Batra, who stunned top players in the sport, had refused several modelling offers in her teenage years. She instead chose to play table tennis and went on to represent the country for the first time when she was just 13. She made her debut in 2014 and has aspired to make table tennis a known sport.

The Delhi-born paddler (born in 1995)came back empty-handed in the 2014 edition of the Commonwealth and Asian Games. But the following year onwards, she went on to win medals in both the Commonwealth TT Championship and the South Asian game editions.

The paddler qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics; however, her stint ended soon as she was ousted in the first round of the women’s individual event by Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska. Batra went on to shine at the 2018 edition of the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. She bagged four medals in four events which include two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal.

Batra also qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by winning the South Asia Group Qualification. However, her challenge ended in the third round of the women’s singles event.

Batra was also bestowed with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (2020) and is an Arjuna Awardee (2018).

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first published:September 16, 2021, 17:12 IST