Manika Batra is the leading lady of Indian table tennis at the moment. Ever since her twin gold medal performance at the Commonwealth Games (CWG), she has become the newest star of Indian sports and Manika accepted that her life has changed post her show in Gold Coast, Australia.
Manika, with her kohled eyes and inspirational table tennis, has begun a new chapter in India’s tryst with the sport and she is enjoying all the recognition and adulation from the Indian public.
Manika, who started playing table tennis at the age of four, led the Indian women’s team to a gold medal against four-time defending champion Singapore in CWG in Gold Coast.
During the team event, Manika defeated world No.4 Tianwei Feng and world No.23 Yu Mengyu. She followed it up with a win over both these players in women’s singles to win another gold medal.
The entire India celebrated Manika for finishing the CWG as the most successful individual athlete, having won four medals (2 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze). She came back to a rousing reception at the New Delhi airport and ever since, she is a well-recognised face in the country.
“When I came back from CWG my life changed. Now people recognise me and it feels great that people who did not watch table tennis now understand how difficult it is and have hope from the sport in Olympics and big tournaments,” Manika said at India Today Mind Rocks 2018.
Manika thanked the government, table tennis federation and Sports Authority of India for their support in helping the athletes achieve their dreams.
She said how not just her but all the table tennis players are working extremely hard and are indeed getting better.
“Indian performances are getting better for the past one year, not just me but everyone else. Everyone is working hard and everyone wants to beat China. We are working hard and for the last two years, we have been receiving support from the government, SAI and the federation, which boards well for us.”
She would like to believe that she has a chance to win an Olympic medal after bagging mixed doubles bronze at the Asian Games. She assured that the hard work is in her hands and she will leave no stones unturned.
“Asian Games is a very tough event and if we have defeated Asians there, I will try my best to beat them at the Olympics.”
Manika gave the three pointers for the success of Indian table tennis players and that will help them make a name in the world.
“First, we need support from everywhere like how we are receiving now. Secondly, like Lakshya was saying, Saina Nehwal and Sindhu are very determined and focussed, we have to keep our own focus as well. Thirdly, I can say about my sport again, if we have to compete with the Chinese and other Asian players, we need to work on fitness a lot.”