After the highs of the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, Manika Batra’s career took a nosedive following the Birmingham CWG 2022 debacle but the ace Indian paddler has vowed to make a strong return at the National Games 2022 before heading to the World Championships this month. Batra was one of India’s biggest stars in 2018, clinching four medals including the women’s singles and team golds at the CWG. She also went on to bag the mixed doubles bronze at the Asian Games later that year.
However at the Birmingham Games 2022 last month, she looked out of sorts and returned empty-handed. “Of course, I was sad and upset when I lost my matches in CWG but I always tell myself this is not the end of the world,” Batra, who is in Surat for the National Games, told reporters during a virtual interaction.
“2018 was really an amazing year for me. This time, I played best before the CWG. I did really well in the World Tours, beat good players,” the top-ranked Indian said. “I think I played my best in CWG but every player has ups and down in their lives. It’s not finished for me just because I didn’t get a medal at the CWG,” she added.
Batra said she has been working hard to rectify her mistakes. “I’ve to keep working hard and bounce back. I’ve worked a lot on my mistakes and my coach has been my sparring partner. We have some big tournaments coming up and next year like the Asian Games.”
The paddlers will be the first in action here at the PDDU Indoor Stadium ahead of the National Games opening ceremony a week from now as they will be flying off to Chengdu for the World Championships from September 30.
At the Birmingham CWG 2022, the 27-year-old failed to defend her title in the women’s singles as she was eliminated in the quarterfinals by the lower-ranked Jian Zeng of Singapore in straight games. She also made quarterfinal exits in the mixed doubles and women’s doubles events. Defending its title, the Indian women’s team, led by Batra, also bowed out in the last eight stage.
“I’ve started training after coming back to India. You should not think that ‘abhi khatm ho gaya’ (it has ended now), you should never give up and should train immediately and work on your mistakes.
“I’m pretty prepared mentally and physically after the CWG debacle. I’ve focused more on my mental strength which is really important when you are playing a big tournament. I will go there and give my 100 per cent,” the Delhi paddler added.
Star Table Tennis player Manika Batra arrives at Surat International airport amidst a grand welcome #36thNationalGames
#UnityThroughSports #JudegaIndiaJitegaIndia #TABLETENNIS @manikabatra_TT @MySuratMySMC @Media_SAI @sagofficialpage @sanghaviharsh pic.twitter.com/ceZKKD4DV4
— National Games Gujarat (@Nat_Games_Guj) September 20, 2022
The Indian TT contingent will leave for the Worlds on September 25 and Batra agreed that it would be hectic competing in back-to-back events. “We have back-to-back tournaments, it will be tiring but I’m mentally prepared for the challenges.”
Asked whether she’s going to change her rubber – the long pips that she uses, Batra said: “I am never going to change my pimples (the bump on the rubber). Over time, you get used to it and I love it.”
(with PTI inputs)