Table tennis player Manika Batra, like many Delhiites, dreads the scorching summer months. The Delhi girl says: “Mujhe Dilli ki garmi nahin pasand. Summer mein mann karta hai ghar pe hi rahun, mujhe sun mein jaana bilkul nahin pasand hai.”
However, like a true disciplined athlete, who has to venture out in the sun for workouts, she adds: “For workouts and everything, one has to go [in the sun]. It doesn’t matter, as for every player training is important. Kahi bhi karo..hard work karte rehna chahiye koi bhi situation ho. An athlete can do anything to achieve their aim.”
Batra, who along with Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, recently found a place in the ITTF World Top 10 rankings, is happy to see herself improving. “We need to work hard in singles, too. I’m going to stay focused on training, but my aim is to win more laurels for the country. I need to train and prepare myself more. We have learned ki apni mistakes se seekhna zaruri hai, toh uspe kaam karungi,” says the 2020 Khel Ratna awardee.
On her camaraderie with her mixed doubles partner, Gnanasekaran, with whom she recently won a silver medal in WTT Contender Doha 2022, she says “trust and bonding” is imperative.
“Koi bhi doubles mein partner ke saath you need good bonding and understanding. You have to trust them. We have played Commonwealth Games in 2018 where we won a bronze medal. Abhi humne socha ki let’s try again, and humari bahut achhi game jami hai. Now, the goal is to bring a medal in Paris Olympics. We are working hard and my understanding with Sathiyan is also improving a lot,” says the 26-year-old.
The end goal of any game, for Batra, is to bring home a medal for India. She says, “Iss level pe aake aapko tough competitors hi milte hain. Kisi ko aap aise (halke mein) nahin samajh sakte. Of course there is pressure, we cannot stop that. But, we can give our 100%. We just need to remember all that we learned during practice, and keep in mind ki humein apni country ke liye jeetke aana hai.”
And all that goes into her mental prep is in sync with the same thought. What she thinks of before a match is the “table, opponent, racket and ball”. “Koshish karti hun ki dimag mein kuch na rakhun. Before a match, I listen to music and also meditate, which really helps me,” she concludes.
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