Batra remains the sole Indian woman to have won gold in TT singles at the CWG.

 

After performing exceptionally well at the Commonwealth Games, latest table tennis sensation Manika Batra has now set her eyes on the Asian Games and is preparing hard for the intense challenge waiting for her on table in Indonesia.

The 23-year-old paddler, who is the first Indian woman to clinch a gold medal in table tennis singles, says she is all confident about her performance in the Asian Games, scheduled to be held from 18 August to 2 September in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

“The training is going great. The multiple tournaments help us assess ourselves as far as training and preparations are concerned. Though training never stops, but yes, all of us going for the Asian Games are confident of ourselves,” Batra tells The Sunday Guardian.

The young star became a sensation with her scintillating performance in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. She returned home with four medals— two golds, one silver and a bronze. After the brilliant show at the Commonwealth event, Batra has now turned into one of the medal hopefuls for India at the Asiad.

But Batra has not let the high expectations affect her mind. “I agree that expectations have risen to a great extent and all eyes are now on the upcoming Asian Games. But frankly, that doesn’t create a pressure on me. Instead, I take it positively that people have those expectations from me only because they can see that potential in me and my game. And that’s what I am here for— to play my game at its best,” says Batra. She took down the Olympic medalist and world no. 4 in Gold Coast but the Asiad will be a completely different story with China, Japan and other counties, which rule the game, making the tournament much more competitive.

However, Batra feels that one just need to be confident while facing a higher-ranked opponent. “I know that if I stick to my game, it’s not impossible to take down the opponents even if they’re from Korea or Japan or China or anywhere else. One shouldn’t be overconfident, but some confidence of taking down the opponent should always be carried in the heart while playing a game,” she philosophises.

Asked if she has any kind of medal pressure, Batra says every player goes into any competition with a medal hope and so does she. “If the medal pressure is not in your heart and mind, then you are not completely into your game. I too am aiming for the medal and will give my best for it. It’s a pride having the medal around your neck,” Batra told this correspondent.

A 10-member table tennis squad will be participating in the Asian Games. The women’s challenge, which also includes Madhurika Patkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Ayhika Mukherjee and Mouma Das, will be led by Batra.

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