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G Sathiyan, Sutirtha Mukherjee book Tokyo Olympic berths; Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra also through

Sathiyan, ranked 38th, had defeated compatriot and world number 32 Sharath Kamal in his opening match on Thursday.

PTI PTI
Doha Published on: March 19, 2021 18:38 IST
Tokyo Olympics, G Sathiyan, Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal
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G Sathiyan and Manika Batra

Indian paddler G Sathiyan has qualified for his maiden Summer Games with a comfortable 4-0 win over Pakistan's Muhammad Rameez in the Asian Olympic Games Qualification Tournament here.

Sathiyan, ranked 38th, had defeated compatriot and world number 32 Sharath Kamal in his opening match on Thursday. On the basis of his world ranking and his win over Pakistan's Rameez, Sharath too has made the cut.

World number 62 Manika Batra, too, is also set to qualify despite her 2-4 loss to compatriot Sutirtha Mukherjee 2-4 in the women's singles event on Thursday evening. Sutirtha sealed her Tokyo berth with the win and Manika is likely to join her on the basis of her ranking.

Both Manika and Sharath will be on the plane to Tokyo but the ITTF will only confirm that in April, when all qualification events around the world are over.

"It's a priceless moment and I am really speechless to express how I feel right now. It's been a childhood dream of mine to take part in the Olympics and it is surely one of the best moments of my life!

"Now that I've qualified, I'm looking forward to putting in a strong performance at Tokyo and making my mark there," said Sathiyan, who recently won his maiden national title.

Sathiyan defeated Rameez 11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-2 to win the South Asia category quota slot.

Taking on Sutirtha in the South Asia women's final, Manika began well but failed to build upon the initial lead as Mukherjee emerged the surprise winner across six games 7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4.

In the fourth game, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal came back strongly to level the score. But Manika was never in the right frame and failed to strike rhythm.

So much so, she managed only five points in the next to help Sutirtha go 3-2 up. In the sixth, the former national champion took seven points on the trot to emerge a deserving winner in less than 35 minutes.

Sharath and Manika, who play their mixed doubles semi-finals on Friday evening, take on Pang Yew En Koen and Lin Ye from Singapore. If they qualify the Asian Games bronze winning pairing will be India's shot for a maiden table tennis medal at the Olympics.

Players from East Asia, Middle Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia are contesting in the Asian Singles Qualification, being held at Doha, for a place each in the men's singles and women's singles, apart from the lone mixed doubles spot.

Except for South Asia, players from the other three regions will play in two stages, including the knockout round.

West Asia held its qualification event at Amman (Jordan) last year. Saudi Arabia's Ali Alkhadrawi in men's singles and 11-year-old Syrian, Zaza Hend, had booked their Tokyo berths. Zaza was the youngest, at that time, to qualify for the Games. 

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