Doha, March 18
The seasoned Achanta Sharath Kamal today became the first Indian paddler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after a dominant win over Pakistan’s Muhammad Rameez at the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament. The veteran Indian thrashed Rameez 11-4, 11-1, 11-5, 11-4 in a little over 22 minutes in the second men’s singles round-robin match in the South Asia group.
Kamal had lost his opening match 9-11, 13-15, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 8-11 to compatriot Gnansekaran Sathiyan.
The win over Rameez ensured at least a second-place finish for Kamal. One quota place is awarded to the highest-ranked second-placed player. Being the top-ranked player in the group, Kamal secured the berth under the Asian quota.
It will be Kamal’s fourth appearance at the Olympic Games. “It was a good match against Sathiyan but I made some errors and he capitalised on them to win the match,” Kamal said. “I was a bit nervous before playing against Rameez as I had never faced him before. But after the first few games I was confident that my strategy was working and I executed it well to maintain control,” the 38-year-old added.
Sharath-Batra in semis
Looking to secure double qualification, Kamal also cruised into the semifinals in the mixed doubles with Manika Batra after the pair defeated Mohammed Abdulwahhab and Maha Faramarzi of Qatar 11-6, 11-6, 11-2, 11-3 in the quarters.
Sathiyan too is just one win away from qualifying for the Tokyo Games as he takes on Rameez in the final round-robin group game. — PTI