My goal is to qualify for Rio Olympics: Paddler Manika

Shillong, Feb 8 (IANS) India’s national table tennis champion Manika Batra says she is focussed on securing a berth for the 2016 Rio Games to realise her ultimate dream of wining an Olympic medal.

“My dream now is to represent India at the Rio Olympics. I am focused on preparing myself and maintaining a good performance to compete but let us hope I get qualified for it (Olympics),” Manika told IANS on Monday.

The silver medallist in the Under-21 (youth) category of Chile Open said: “I am practising seven-to-eight hours every day preparing myself to qualify for Rio games. I will give all my best to win at the the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Kuala Lumpur and the Asian Olympic table tennis qualifying tournament in Hong Kong.”

“I know it will be tough competition (Rio’s Qualifying tournament). I have to compete with world-beaters from China, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong,” she added.

The Kuala Lumpur event will be held from February 28 to March 6 followed by the Hong Kong meet from April 13-17.

“My goal to go to Rio is to win a medal for India,” said the 5-foot-11-inch tall paddler, who showed her tremendous consistency in the ongoing 12th South Asian Games.

Asked if she considered the ongoing 12th South Asian Games (SAG) as a warm-up event, Manika said: “I don’t take it (South Asian Games) that way. I came here with a positive mind to win all the matches for India.”

However, the 20-year-old paddler said the Indian team members strongly felt that the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) should send its paddlers to further improve their skills.

A TTFI official, however, said they were planning to send their top paddlers to Europe for a month-long training for the qualification round of the Rio Olympics after the World Table Tennis Championship.

(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at rrkharmujai@gmail.com)

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