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Olympic-bound TT players get a 19-day camp boost

New Delhi (PTI). Olympic-bound Indian table tennis players, including Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra, received a much needed boost as they will have a 19-day camp at Sonepat beginning on Thursday.

Sharath Kamal, Manika and Sutirtha Mukherjee will finally get a chance to train together, while G Sathiyan will continue to train in Chennai under his coach S Raman.

"The camp at DPS (Sonepat) will start on June 17 and end on July 5. The SAI-approved camp is the result of some last-ditch efforts from the TTFI and the players," Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) said in a release.

The Indian players were confined to their homes since qualifying for the Olympics at the Asian Qualification events in March in Doha with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the country.

While Sharath and Sathiyan were in Chennai, Manika was in Pune and Sutirtha was doing practice in a limited way in Kolkata.

"For one, it will change our mood. All of us have been training individually because of the pandemic. Now we can focus on the job at hand. We will also be able to push our limits with different sparring partners," Sharath said.

Sharath said he and Manika will need to put in long hours of practice ahead of the Tokyo Games.

"We did a three-day session in Chennai, but that was too short for our satisfaction. Then the pandemic prevented us from any further sessions. The fortnight-long camp should help us," he said.

Sathiyan, on the other hand, said that he preferred training in Chennai because he would get to practice on the Sanei table he was procuring.

"I am expecting it (the table) before the end of this month. At the Games, this brand will be in use. My coach and I have chalked out our programme," he said.

Somyadeep Roy, most likely to be named as the team coach for Tokyo Olympics, and Arun Basak will have nine other paddlers to train with the three players.

SAI has also approved a sparring partner in Aakash Pal for Sutirtha, besides a personal coach (Sanmay Paranjape) and physio (Dhanjay Dubey) for Manika.

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