The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) is planning a training camp for its Olympic contingent in Sonepat from June 20, trying to make up for a far from ideal Games build-up amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the second wave of COVID-19 ravaging the country, the four Tokyo-bound players — Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee — have been restricted to individual training since qualifying in March.
“The preparations have not been ideal but you could not help it amid the pandemic. We are now awaiting SAI’s approval for the 15-day camp. It should come in a day or two.
“A total of 12 players and four support staff will be part of the camp. The players have trained in DPS Sonepat earlier also, so they are comfortable with the facility,” TTFI advisor M.P. Singh said.
Sathiyan not to travel
Barring Sathiyan, who wants to continue training with coach S. Raman in Chennai and avoid travel, the other Olympic-bound paddlers will be be part of the camp.
Besides the Olympic-bound players, other India players including Archana Kamath, Sanil Shetty and Manav Thakkar, will also be in Sonepat.
“The players will undergo RT-PCR tests upon arrival on June 17 and when the camp begins from June 20, they will undergo a rapid antigen test daily,” said Singh.
Sharath, who is set to compete in his fourth Olympics, could not get the visa to train in Denmark and therefore is looking forward to much-needed practice in a team environment.
He and Sathiyan will be competing in singles, but the veteran’s focus is on mixed doubles with Manika. They both won a surprise bronze at the 2018 Asian Games and the pairing remains India’s best chance of another good result in Tokyo.
“Manika and I focused on our movement before and during the qualifiers. Now we need to get better at playing situations in a match. The preparations have been far from ideal (due to COVID-19), but we need to make the best use of this camp,” said Sharath.