And then there was no on the lookout back again for Manika Batra.
The poster woman of Indian Table Tennis is now in Tokyo for what will be her second Olympic visual appeal and is all set to compete in the Women’s Singles and the Blended Doubles situations. No Indian has ever received a TT medal at the Olympics. Will Manika be the 1st to crack that jinx?
In a freewheeling chat with TimesofIndia.com, the 26 year old spoke about her TT journey, her realistic targets in Tokyo, her planning for this edition of the Olympics, her evolution as a participant, Indian TT vis a vis other Asian nations around the world and a lot much more.
This is element 1 of a special chat with Manika Batra.
You are all established for the Tokyo Olympics. This will be your second Olympic overall look soon after the Rio Online games in 2016. How thrilled are you?
This will be my second Olympics. I am thrilled and also well prepared. In the first Olympics (Rio 2016) I went to just perform. This time I am anticipating a great deal much more from myself. I am joyful and enthusiastic due to the fact qualifying for the Olympics and playing for your region alone is a big detail. So, I am satisfied to be here for my 2nd Olympics
How are you emotion bodily and mentally? Are you satisfied with your preparation for the Tokyo Video games?
Yes, I am very delighted. Of system, not totally content, due to the fact no player is ever absolutely happy with his or her preparation for any event. But I am satisfied with my preparing this time. Right before the 2016 Game titles, I was not organized as a lot as I am this time. This time the instruction I have done in Pune, with all my aid staff – mentor, physio and sparring partner, who is from Belarus has been very great. I am geared up bodily and mentally as well. Mentally is critical, mainly because of the present problem (Covid), which will signify we will have to stay challenging. So of course, I am ready.
The nation of class often expects a good deal from the entire Indian contingent right before each individual Olympics. But just about every athlete, independently, also sets some kind of real looking expectations from the Game titles for himself or herself. What are the plans that you are environment for by yourself at the Tokyo Online games?
In my head, I am at the Tokyo Olympics for my state and I will give my best, no matter what. I will give my 100%. But I will not place that strain on myself while I am taking part in, that I have to acquire. At the back of my intellect I will have that believed of course that I have to get for my nation, but I you should not want to set pressure on myself. I just want to enjoy and participate in my most effective. I want to shock myself.
Its time to go away for #Tokyo2020 https://t.co/QguBXVajv3
— Manika Batra (@manikabatra_TT) 1626534755000
For a though now, you have been practising and living in Tokyo time. Would it be honest to say that you are fully in Tokyo manner? You have been syncing your teaching time, sleep cycle etc to Tokyo time. You have been owning 5 am apply sessions…
We have to do this. I don’t want a state of affairs where I have follow early in the morning and I retain sleeping. I was getting ready myself for that. I was obtaining up at 4 am, with observe scheduled at 5am. This was accomplished to get ready myself mentally and physically. I was attempting to engage in extra matches in the morning session. The overall body is usually lazy and worn out at that time and I you should not want it to be that way at the Olympics, which is why I was pursuing that timetable
If you believe back again on your journey so significantly, when was the initially time you considered to by yourself – ‘yes I can go to the Olympics sometime and represent my nation? ‘When an athlete keeps bettering with time, there is a period when he or she claims to himself or herself ‘I can go to the Olympics’. When did this transpire to you?
When I played my 1st intercontinental match. In 2011 I beat (Kasumi) Ishikawa (in a u-21 match in Santiago, Chile – Manika was 16 at the time), when she was ranked 4th in the globe. She was an Olympian, so I considered, if I can beat her, I can also go and perform at the Olympics. And also when Col. Rajyvardhan Singh Rathore gained the silver medal at the 2004 Athen Olympics – that gave me a great deal of inspiration to check out and achieve the Olympics and enjoy for my state. I felt that I necessary to win for my region far too and characterize my nation at the Olympics.
Manika Batra with her coach. (ANI Picture)
When did the TT journey really start out for Manika Batra? I was studying someplace that you commenced playing at the age of 4, but how previous ended up you when you considered that this is one thing that can be turned into a occupation and that you can go after it very seriously?
I assume that took place a minor late. In 2008-09 I performed the US Open -an international match. I received 3 medals there – two golds and just one silver. At that time I believed -‘kuch ho sakta hai’ (enjoying TT severely is probable). So if you assess it with say the Chinese, the realisation transpired late. The Chinese for instance start off quite early and their objectives are established. They know this is what they have to do. So, my realisation occurred late, but I am happy it transpired. Also when you are extremely young and you get a condition championship, that experience is definitely great. I definitely loved those people thoughts when I was young.
And the moment that realisation established in, did you observe any global stars on Tv or perhaps any videos? Did you have a TT idol whilst expanding up?
I applied to check out Chinese player Zhang Jike (Chinese male player – 4 Olympic medals – 3 gold, 1 silver). Also Ding Ning (Chinese feminine player – 4 Olympic medals – 3 gold, 1 silver). I really like their model of play. I made use of to watch their matches on the web a whole lot.
What in accordance to you is the largest distinction in say the Chinese set-up for TT or the Singapore or Japan design vis a vis the Indian established-up?
I assume they are taught from a really early age, from when they are 3-4 several years aged that they have to someday engage in at the Olympics. Their coaches are incredibly demanding and be certain that their players are centered only on their activity and absolutely nothing else. So they determine players at a quite youthful age. That is a massive variation. But, I think that has improved and modified a whole lot in India. Now, you locate parents who are also eager on having their young children into a activity. That has been one particular massive transform. Now the services and so on are offered in India, many thanks to governing administration assist etc. Absolutely everyone is extremely practical. So now, if a youthful little one displays an fascination, it really is not like he or she will not get the assist or assist or enthusiasm.
Manika Batra. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Visuals)
A single matter that has stood out in your job so considerably is how immediately you have matured and enhanced as a TT player. In 2011 you received the silver medal in the u-21 class at the Chile Open. In 3 yrs time, in 2014, you represented India at the Commonwealth Video games and the Asian Online games. Would it be truthful to simply call that stage in your occupation the to start with a person of huge and very swift advancement?
I never like to praise myself, but in my head and coronary heart I know that I want to enjoy for my nation and gain medals for my place. That psychological attachment is incredibly a lot there. That has often been there. And of system, I have also constantly been dedicated and identified. That helped me increase quickly. And after switching foundation to Pune, in which I am schooling now, I have learnt a lot of points, like do the job ethic, self-discipline and many others. I have learnt these factors extremely properly. After I started schooling in Pune I have also defeated Chinese players as nicely as Koreans, so I feel I have improved a large amount given that then as perfectly.
Considering the fact that we are conversing about how swiftly you have improved in your job, I have to discuss about the 2018 Commonwealth Video games. Reminiscences of that competition ought to even now deliver a major smile to your deal with? Two golds, a silver, a bronze – you turned the very first Indian feminine TT player to win a CWG gold medal in the women’s singles. Did your everyday living change completely right after that?
For people today, sure. For me, that was just the starting. I realized I had to get the job done tougher than I currently was and that I need to be extra disciplined. When you get a medal for the country, you should not relaxation on your laurels and say that I am happy, I am performed. I under no circumstances think like that. After each and every match, I come back again and I practice. Of training course I will often have incredibly fond recollections of the 2018 CWG. That was the first time I gained a CWG medal and 4 of them. That will always convey a smile to my deal with, but I also know that I have to work difficult and give my ideal in each and every coaching session.
My upcoming dilemma, as you might have guessed, is about the 2018 Asian Video games and the historic bronze medal with Sharath Kamal in the Mixed Doubles. How complicated was the journey to that medal for you?
That was our very first medal at the Asian Online games. And Sharath and I failed to engage in collectively in any tournament right before that. In fact we hadn’t practiced together a ton right before that both. But equally of us were individually taking part in properly, so we managed to aid each individual other properly. We gave our greatest and we ended up contemplating that we are playing for India, so we have to give our greatest, no subject what.
And did you realise promptly just after successful that medal how large an achievement that was or did that realization seep in later?
No, I realised at that time itself. But the realisation was of system magnified substantially more later on, when I heard persons speaking about how historic an achievement that was. We failed to have an Asian Video games TT medal ahead of that and it is truly rough to perform at the Asian Games, the area is very aggressive. So indeed, I felt quite very good about it personally and I felt like I did a little something special (laughs)
Manika Batra. (Picture by Matt Roberts/Getty Photographs)
We know just how large the stage of competitiveness is at the Asian Video games in TT. Would you say a TT medal at the Asian Games is virtually as fantastic as a TT medal at the Olympics in terms of issues?
To be sincere, the Olympics of study course is a significant massive celebration. But, the Asian Video games are pretty tough. All the best players, who are typically from Asia – Korea, China, Japan, Singapore are all there – so the Asian Games are more durable. Olympics are difficult in a distinctive sense due to the fact of the stress of how big the stage is. So, both are tricky in diverse ways.
But appropriate now you are in Tokyo, so the big intention is of system to gain a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Which function do you think you have a much better possibility of successful a medal in – the Women’ Singles or the Blended Doubles?
To be truthful, in the singles, I will give my most effective, no make any difference what. I will try to attain the pre-quarters or quarters, after which we will have to see – for the reason that soon after that phase it really is about how the strain is handled. In the Combined Doubles, we will have the Round of 16, we will have to get 3-4 matches for that. I do not want to say which event I have a better chance of successful a medal in, but we (Manika and Sharath) will give our ideal. And personally, I can say I will give it my all to consider and acquire a medal right here in Tokyo.
Have you recognized any possible opponents or large threats at the Video games this time as component of your education?
Of course. I have in simple fact educated as per opportunity opponents. My coach and I – we have analysed their games and so forth. I feel all the players at the Video games are at the similar level, due to the fact only the leading gamers go to the Olympics. Of study course, the Asian players are the finest, so they will be the hardest opponents. But even the Europeans and others – they way too have appear here to acquire. All the rounds are heading to be difficult, so I have to give my best in each round, each and every game
How essential a function does nutrition play in an athlete’s life? How a lot has the aim on nourishment in the course of energetic instruction progressed over the decades?
Wellness and Physical fitness as a lifestyle are element and parcel of an athlete’s journey. Excellent nutrition is crucial for the progress and performance of an athlete. You cannot segregate a single from the other. Feeding on nutritious and retaining conditioning have usually been at the forefront for athletes. The definition of wholesome and diet keeps on switching around the several years. All through lively instruction, the target is considerably far more on diet to be the fittest, conduct greater and stay more powerful.