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Table Tennis: The top Indian paddlers of all time

Bengaluru, Sept. 25: Table Tennis as a sport hadn't received the support and limelight that it deserves. But with stars like Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal holding the reigns of the sport, the sport has recently enjoyed the attention it so deserved.

Top women's paddler Manika Batra along with Mouma Das gave the sport the much-need boost, when they secured the historic gold, defeating defending champions Singapore in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Over the years the sport has seen paddlers shoot to prominence and take the game forward in the country.

Here we take a look at some of the best paddlers from the country:

Sharath Kamal:

Sharath Kamal:

Achanta Sharath Kamal is arguable one of the best Table Tennis players the country has ever produced. The 37-year-old from Tamil Nadu is one of the pioneers of the sport from the country and has brought brought the sport under the spotlight. Kamal is the first paddler to become the senior national champion nine times, overshadowing eight-time national champions Kamlesh Mehta.

The Padma Shri awardee has many accolades to his name. One of his notable accomplishments was the men's single at the Commonwealth Games in 2004 and he went on to be conferred the Arjuna award that year for his expliots in the sport. Kamal's has many firsts to his name and he is one of the best the country has produced.

With many titles to his name, the one which will make him standout is his Egypt Open win in 2010. With that title to his name, Kamal became the first Indian paddler to win a singles title on the ITTF Pro Tour. Kamal has eight Commonwealth medals in his kitty, including one golf in the 2006 men's single category. He went on to win three more gold medals, all in the men's team event. Most recently, the paddler secured bronze in the men's single and mixed doubles category in last year's edition, i.e the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Sharath also has two Asian Games bronze medals in his kitty. With a huge medal count and consistent show in the sport, the Tamil Nadu paddler is one of the best the country has produced and he has surely been an inspiration to those aspiring to take up the sport.

Manika Batra:

Manika Batra:

Manika Batra is currently the highest ranked female Indian table tennis player. After Sharath, Batra brought the limelight back on the sport. For youngsters, Manika's rise to prominence is an inspiring one and the 24-year-old will surely go down as one of the country's best paddlers.

Manika, who took up the sport at the early age of four, first tasted success when she won the silver medal in the under-21 category of the Chile Open. The Delhi paddler then went on to take part in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, but ended without any medals in her kitty. She added to her medal kitty in 2015, when she secured three medals at the 2015 Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships.

The 2016 Asian Games saw Batra hit a golden patch, when she clinched three gold medals. Batra secured the yellow medal in the women's team event, the women's doubles event and also the mixed doubles event. She lost out on a fourth gold, as she lost to compatriot Mouma Das, another top Indian paddler, in the women's single final. With Indians securing medals at major events the sport grew in an unprecendented manner.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games put the Indian paddlers on the front page, while Batra became a household name overnight. In last year's edition, Batra picked up four medals, which included two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. Batra guided the Indian team to a women's team gold over favoured Singapore. The Singapore team had never lost in the Games since the sport was inducted into CWG in 2002. This send the Indian paddlers down in the history books.

Batra's efforts have seen the sport get the much-needed attention and being just 24, the youngster surely looks set for a long career ahead.

Mouma Das:

Mouma Das:

Hailing from Kolkata, Mouma Das is one of the best players from the country. Having made her maiden appearance at the World Table Tennis Championship in 1997, Das has gone onto to win several medals for thr country. She has been one of India's top performers.

The 35-year-old has represented India in two Olympic editions and also paired up with Manika Batra to clinch a historic win over Singapore in the Commonwealth Games.

The Arjuna awardee is one of India's top medallists from the sport and has been a beacon for the upcoming players. The Kolkata paddler five Commonwealth Games medals to her name. She clinched her first CWG medal at the 2006 Melbourne edition, in which she won bronze in the women's team event.

During the 2010 edition at home, Das added to the hosts medal count, picking up two medals. While she clinched a silver in the women's team event, she picked up a bronze in the doubles event. The 2018 edition has been her best outing till date. She won the historic gold in the women's team event in Melbourne to bring the sport into the limelight. That medal has put India and its paddlers down in the history books. She also secured silver in the doubles event in that edition.

Das also enjoyed consistent success in the South Asian Games as she picked up gold in three editions, which included the 2004, 2006 and 2016 edition.

Having been around for over two decades, the West Bengal paddler is without doubt one of the best from the country.

Soumyajit Ghosh:

Soumyajit Ghosh:

Another player hailing from West Bengal, Soumyajit Ghosh, has been a promising talent for the country. Having taken up the sport at the age of five, the 26-year-old has many firsts to his name. Though troubles on the personal front has seen his career take a hit, the Siliguri player is hopeful of a good outing in the upcoming Olympics.

Ghosh has seen success at a very young age. As a youngster he showed lots of promise as he became the youngest Indian player to qualify for the London Olympics in 2012. He had also won the bronze at the 2010 World Junior Championship and had helped the Indian team clinch bronze the next year the World Junior Championships.

Ghosh also became the youngest national champion at the age of 19. The youngster shot into the limelight when he defeated India's top player Sharath Kamal at the 74th National Table Tennis Championships. Having seen a successful start the youngster showed lots of promise. He has represented the country in the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics as well but hasn't won a medal.

In 2017, Ghosh won his first ITTF Pro title and also became the third Indian to win an ITTF event, when he clinched the ITTF Challenge Seamaster Chile Open singles title. He was a part of the 2018 Indian team for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne but troubles in his personal life saw him being banned and he was dropped from the team. The shuttler shows a lot of promise and if he can overcome his personal troubles, he might as well be a strong contendor in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and also enjoy a long successful career.

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Story first published: Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 21:18 [IST]
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