Tokyo 2020: Paddler Sharath Kamal completely focused on last Olympics

India's highest-ranked men's table tennis player feels that the Tokyo Games will be his last and expects to give his best shot.

Indian table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal. (FILE PHOTO)   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT/ The Hindu

India's highest-ranked men's table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal is not "looking" at the Paris Olympics as he feels the upcoming Tokyo Games will be his last and he wants to give his best shot at the quadrennial event.

Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 23 and will run up to August 8 this year. The event was slated to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The kind of fitness I am able to maintain and the way I am able to train I really don't know, it's about the motivation to go into the next Olympic game but at this point in time I am not looking there. I am not looking at 2024. My complete focus is on Tokyo and I will play as this is my last, will try and give it everything," Sharath told ANI.

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The upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators, Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa confirmed last week. Sharath has been training for the Olympics but playing in the Tokyo Games without fans was something he didn't think about. "Training camp I think was much needed at that point of time where lockdown was an issue and we had a lot of restrictions in regard to training so once we got into training camp, bio bubble was formed and it was good," said Sharath.

"In the camp, we made a lot of simulation like played a match as it was a semi-final or quarter-final and then a final game as there was only one table and people were trying to cheer for us. "But since now the decision has been changed and we again had to practice without fans in a quiet hall. I feel camp was really good and I am really happy the way camp went on," he added.

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Sharath said he was unsure of the new COVID-19 restrictions put in place by Japan but he is pretty much confident of handling the situation as soon as he reaches Tokyo. "A lot of things has happened already and I have been through a lot of anxiety and stress but at this point in time I am completely focused on the Olympics only," said Sharath. "I still don't know about a lot of other things, there are so many things which we are unsure of due to the new COVID restrictions. But I am pretty much used to all these things and I know how to handle that over the years, hopefully, all will get better," he added.

Talking about the chance of winning a medal in a mixed doubles event, Sharath said, "Mixed doubles is where we have a fair chance to get a medal because you start off with the round of 16 and are just three-round away from a medal." He concluded, "In singles, we are almost having six to seven rounds away from medal so that makes it a little bit more difficult. So mixed doubles is where the focus is but at the same time singles is also something which I am looking at personally."

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