Manika’s dispute with Table Tennis Federation
There could be a number of reasons why Manika is out of CWG 2022. But the biggest reason is his feud with the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), which may have affected him mentally. Usually, athletes refrain themselves from getting involved in off-field disputes, especially during the peak of their careers. But, this was not the case with Manika, who was involved in a dispute with the TTFI just after the conclusion of the Tokyo Olympics. Competing in her second consecutive Olympics, Manika created a sensation as she became the first Indian athlete to reach the third round at Tokyo 2020.
However, soon after, the TTFI decided to issue a show-cause notice to Manika for refusing coach Soumyadeep Roy’s assistance for her singles matches in Tokyo. After her personal coach Sanmay Paranjpe was denied Field of Play (FOP) permission at the venue, Manika turned down the possibility of Roy being in her corner for singles matches. She played all her singles matches without a coach and lost in the third round. However, Roy was present in the mixed doubles matches with Sharath Kamal. Manika had in September moved the Delhi High Court against the TTFI, saying she was subjected to undue pressure and mistreatment, which had put her in great mental agony. After a few months the court finally ruled in favor of the athlete.
The matter of Manika and Federation reached the court
The star paddler won the case but all the off-field controversies didn’t help him in terms of CWG 2022 preparations. Apart from Manika, India had high hopes from their veteran table tennis star, Achanta Sharath Kamal, when he was in his stellar performance at the CWG 2022. In Birmingham, the 40-year-old won a total of four medals, including three gold. Sharath was in fine form, playing his part as India defended the men’s team gold. But the medals that were more satisfying were men’s singles gold and mixed doubles in the company of a youngster, Sreeja Akula.
Sharath won the singles gold medal by defeating England’s Liam Pitchford 4-1, ranked 20th in the world. Most commendable was his fitness level as he played six matches a day for most days at CWG 2022, and his victory in singles shows his physical and mental strength. Another paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran also did well in the Commonwealth Games 2022.
Sathiyan won medal in Commonwealth Games
Sathiyan won gold in men’s team event along with bronze medal in men’s singles and silver in men’s doubles with Sharath. The 29-year-old has been one of the most consistent players and medalists for India over the years. So, naturally, there will be great expectations from him in Paris. The likes of Harmeet Desai, Sanil Shetty also made their presence felt especially in the team events.
In the women’s section, Sreeja, Reeth Rishi, Diya Chitale will have to take their game to the next level to become medal contenders in the big events. Overall, the table tennis contingent, which had won eight medals at the 2018 Gold Coast, could manage only five medals in Birmingham 2022. Para-TT stars Bhavna Patel and Sonal Patel contributed gold and bronze to make the tally healthy. Bhavna showed that she is one of the best in her category in the world with easy wins throughout the tournament. Hence, most of the Indian paddlers will have to keep honing their skills, upgrade themselves and prepare well for the upcoming challenges including the Paris Olympics to bring more respect to the country.
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