Friday 30 November 2012

India's Finest Aims Back to Top 40

Perhaps the most successful table tennis player ever to emerge from India is of course the widely followed Sharath Kamal Achanta. The former Commonwealth Champion has his sights set firmly back on the top 40 in the mens world rankings and looks like he will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Thanks for the interview Kamal and good luck with your goal to return to the top 40!

Full Name: Achanta Sharath Kamal
Age: 30 yrs
Date Of Birth: 12/07/1982
Nation represented: India
Highest World Ranking: 39 as on Aug 2010

Equipment Used?
Blade: Joola Flame Fast
FH Rubber: Joola Pheonix
BH Rubber: Joola

Sharath Kamal Achanta, India's finest
Image courtesy of ITTF
Your Career

How long have you been playing table tennis for, when and how did you start?My father and uncle are my coaches and they were running a club even before I was born. So it was quite obvious that I should start to play Table Tennis and I started playing at the age of 5.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
I would say my uncle who is my coach also has influenced me especially in my early stages of my career and he was one of the main people who pushed me to turn Pro and work harder.

What is your next big goal for table tennis?I would like to get back into the top 40 in the World Ranking which is my immediate goal.

What do you think is the most important thing in table tennis for becoming a successful player on the international stage?
Hmmmm…. There are a lot of factor at the international level as there are a lot of players playing at this level and the competition is quite high. But as far as I am concerned it is all in the head, which is attitude, belief and determination. This is what is going to take you to the top.

Why do you think China currently dominate the sport?
Their training regimes are harder and longer and technical, they are very sound. They also have a very strong tradition and many players are playing table tennis at a very high level there. 

Kamal's recent victory over Patrick Baum in Poland

You previously played league competition in Spain and more recently in Bremen, do you still participate in a league competition anywhere in the world?
This year I am playing in 2 leagues, one in Sweden and the other in Denmark, after the club in Italy closed down due to financial reasons.

Tell us about your numerous Commonwealth Games Gold medals. You must be incredibly proud of them, is there one which stands out as being most memorable to you?
Well, I won the Commonwealth Games Singles and team title in 2006 at Melbourne and the doubles title in 2010 at New Delhi. Both have their own charm and value as 2006 was my first international victory and the I was very overwhelmed with the way people were following the Games and the recognition I got from this Games. And in 2010 it was in home grounds where I completely broke down into tears when I heard my National Anthem on the podium. I still have goose bumps when I see that video as I was playing my best table tennis at that time and also I just lost in the singles semi-finals from a situation where I was completely dominating. So before going into the match I told the coach that I would like to hear our national anthem at least once and it was quite an emotional moment. It was a mix of too many feelings and I broke down.

Commonwealth Gold Medalist 2006 & 2010
Image courtesy of ITTF
You were the first Indian player ever to win a singles title on the ITTF Pro Tour, do you think India will produce another player in the near future who will be able to compete at your level?
India has a lot of young players who are doing very well at the international arena, players like Soumyajit Ghosh , Harmeet Desai and a lot of younger players behind them. So I am quite sure that they will only have my achievements as a benchmark and they will raise the bar higher.

At the recent Polish Open you were able to beat Patrick Baum, would you say that is one of your top results to date?
It was long time since I beat a top 30 player, so I was happy to come back to my winning way and I hope I continue.

Off the Topic Questions

Who’s your favourite sportsperson of all time?
Roger Federer

Favourite food?
Of course, Indian ( I started to like it more since I am away in Europe for a long time now and I miss it quite often.)

What do you do when you aren't playing table tennis?I could say that I would be a entrepreneur or something else but I would be a big lie as in the first place I had no option and secondly I just love this sport that I can’t imagine myself without it now.

Dream Car?
Chevy Camaro

Ideal holiday destination?
ny place with a beach, there is so much peace at the beach.

First thing you would do if you won $1million?
I would give it to my wife.. :P

And Lastly

Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message for other table tennis players looking to succeed?I always keep telling this to young players that they must aim high and work toward their goals. And at the same time they need to do what they love otherwise they will have to be satisfied with loving what they are doing.