My goal is to qualify for Rio Olympics: Paddler Manika

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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.”

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“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.

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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 [email protected])

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