Top Indian paddlers eye Olympic qualification in Doha event

Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee will play in the World Singles qualification tournament with a total of nine spots available for the Tokyo Games.

Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan will be among the stars in contention for an Olympics spot at the World Singles qualification tournament beginning in Doha on Sunday.   -  Getty Images

Sharath Kamal, G. Sathiyan, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee will be eyeing qualification for the Tokyo Olympics from the World Singles qualification tournament beginning in Doha on Sunday.

There are four spots available for men and five for women.

For men, in stage 1, there are three qualifying spots. Entries will be split into three groups. Knockout matches will be played from the round of 32 and the winner from each group will attain qualification.

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In stage 2, where the runner-up and the losing semifinalists from all three groups form a nine-player field, the winner takes the remaining qualifying spot.

For women, the field will be divided into four knockout groups and the group-winner will qualify. In stage 2, the runner-up from four groups will battle it out for the final qualifying berth.

Should things not go India’s way in this tournament, their qualification will depend on how they perform in the Asian Olympic qualification tournament from March 18-20.

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In the singles events, Sharath (ranked 32nd) and Sathiyan (37th) are the top two seeded players, while Manika (63rd) and Sutirtha (95th) are seeded two and four in the women's singles. Indications are that these world rankings could play a big role in their qualification. In
any case, Indians are virtually assured of grabbing the lone South Asian quota in both sections.

In mixed doubles, Asian Games bronze medallists Sharath and Manika are seeded second.