Flashback 1: A tensed situation at the Yamuna Sports Complex 4 years ago. Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha up against Gao Ning and Yang Zi of Singapore and playing the match of their lives, the Gold medal match for the men’s doubles. Its 2-2, 10-8 for India and as Gao Ning is ready to serve to Kamal, the crowd cannot stop cheering. The distracted Ning serves; Kamal makes a backhand flick on the forehand side, and zup!!! Yang Zi hits the forehand topspin straight into the net!!! The crowd roars in excitement and joy as Saha jumps on Kamal and hugs him tight to celebrate their victory. Later during the medal ceremony Kamal weeps like a little kid as the tricolor goes up and the national anthem is played. Years of hard work and sacrifice finally paid off!!!! GOLD MEDAL FOR INDIA IN THE MENS DOUBLES.
Flashback 2: Thursday, 7th October 2010- India vs England in women team semi finals. The stadium is jammed packed as Indian eves look determined to win as they step inside the court with confidence having had beaten the mighty Australia in the quarter finals a day earlier. The girls showing the world that the Indian women paddlers are no less, thrash England 3-0 and win in style. K.Shamini beat Kelly Sibley 3-1 to give India a positive start. Next Mouma Das thrashes Joanna Parker 3-0 giving her nightmares. All eyes set on Poulomi Ghatak as she smoothly went past Hanna Hicks 3-0 (11-8, 11-3, 11-6). AND IT WAS DONE! Indian women in the finals for the first time in the history of Commonwealth Games. A match these girls will never forget. And we as Indians will keep praising. Jai Hind!!!
24th July 2014: Today in Glasgow, the games begin, yet again. A new land, new opportunities, new faces, new games and a new winner. But we hope, India wins more than what they did in 2010. I say because the work has been done. The new foreign coach, Peter Engel who along with Mr.Bhawani Mukherji have worked hard day in and day out with the paddlers at NIS Patiala and China and are confident about the results.
Our star player and my favorite Achanta Sharath Kamal looks in fine form .His young team, with Harmeet Desai, Soumyajit Ghosh, A.Amalraj and Sanil Shetty are all in the best of their ability. They have made steady improvements in the game and also the world rankings. Making a mark at the world stage, I wish the Indian men repeat 2006 Melbourne- GOLD MEDAL in teams. And it looks possible. Singapore and England are strong competition but the kind of sincerity and hard work everyone has put in the last 4 years, is commendable and that makes it possible to beat them.
Also, there are high expectations from Kamal in singles as he’s in great shape and Ghosh and Harmeet in doubles as they have emerged a very strong men’s doubles pair since 2012.
But here is something closer to my heart- the women’s team! Although I missed my place in the team this time again, but we have all been training together since January at NIS Patiala and have lived like a family and I sincerely hope that they repeat Delhi 2010. And again, its possible. The team with well experienced K.Shamini, Poulomi Ghatak, Madhurika Pathkar and young fearless Manika Batra and Ankita Das, are all ready to rock!!
Commonwealth Games- Its once in 4 years, and its one arena where the much ignore, yet cherished sport, Indian table tennis, has displayed its meticulous might!
So, heres to the hard work, the sweat, the sore muscles, the never ending service practice sessions, the 4X5 minutes footwork exercises, the football workout, the Bolt’s paced multiballs, the 20 balls with counter spin rallies, the uninvited injuries, the boring rehab after the injury, the “missing mummy ke haath ka khana” moments, the “yayyy Wednesday evening off” moments, the favourite Friday lunch kadi chawal madness, the post dinner gossip and laughter, and what not.
Lets go team India, and bring home the medals.
After all, we know one thing very well and its the mantra the Indian team has been repeating each day for the past 2 months-
“WHO AM I?
I AM A CHAMPION.”