I am really, really happy to have won the Sportstar Aces Award supported by Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, in association with MRF. As a kid, I used to see the pictures of several sportspersons in the magazine and I felt so happy seeing my favourite stars on the posters and in the magazine. There have been bigger sportspersons who have won the award before. Today, I am one among such stars, who have won the award. It’s really a great honour. And I am so thrilled to meet other sportspersons in the evening.

The year 2018 has been the best for Indian table tennis as far as performance of the men’s and women’s teams was concerned.

To say the truth, it was phenomenal. We won eight medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, two medals (bronze in mixed doubles: myself and Manika Batra and bronze in men’s team) at the Asian Games in 60 years, which was historic. All these achievements have put Indian on the world map of TT. Add to that, we also had two Arjuna awardees in G. Sathiyan and Manika Batra, one Dronacharaya Award (my father Srinivasa Rao) and a Padma Shri (myself) all in just one year. This is the best we’ve ever hard. We will continue to do well, and keep winning medals.

The next major event is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Preparations are going on to qualify for the Games. Apart from that, I would like to break into the top 20 in the world before December 2019. I will be playing a lot of tournaments which includes Pro Tours, World Championships (April 21-28 in Budapest, Hungary) and the Asian Championships (September 15-22 in Bali). There will also be training camps, conducted by the Table Tennis Federation of India, to get us into battle mode.

As told to K. Keerthivasan.