On the International Yoga Day on 21 June, we had with us Sharath Kamal who is a serious promoter of yoga and the first Indian table tennis player ever to become a nine-time senior national champion, breaking the record of eight times national champion Kamlesh Mehta, In 2019 he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award.
Q. So, like taking you back to the memory lane Tokyo Olympics 2021, how will you describe India’s table tennis campaign at the Tokyo Olympics, and how would you sum up India’s performance there?
A. I think all of us did extremely well and personally for me it was my best performance at the Olympic games. I lost in the round of 32, well I have played the round of 32 before this but you know even then putting a fight against the defending champion, who had won the Olympic games also so I had gotten a game off for him and it was we’re going into tie-breaker into the third set. And I think personally for me it was the best performance so a lot of people when they ask me which was your best match and stuff, I think quality-wise in the level of play or what I would have played on that particular day I would rate that match as the best I’ve plate in my career. So, I’ve had great memories from the Tokyo Olympic games and I’m really happy and proud to be part of the Indian contingent there it was my fourth Olympic game and I hope I’ll be in the next one at the periscope.
Q. My next question is based on the match only we always talk about the feeling ‘morning after’ what was yours after that long match which won a lot of hearts and after coming back home?
A. When I lost that match immediately, I came to the bench when I came, I was very disappointed, I felt like “oh how many times have I lost this kind of matches” where I get the opponent to a corner. And then you know I let him go I didn’t feel so great about what he did but then the Coach just patted my shoulder and he said great show fantastic way, to have played this match and I’m proud of you. So that had happened and then when I came back to the room and when I saw the social media messages where I had inspired so many top players so many youngsters to you know to show them that yes, we can put a fight against Chinese and probably sooner or later we’ll be able to beat them, also I think the attitude that I portrayed in that match was something which everybody talks about and that is why that match is remembered. I guess it will be remembered for a long time of course without a doubt.
Q. So, how has yoga changed your life?
A. I think I’ve been doing yoga since my school days in school it was compulsory. So, we’ve been doing it and after that when I started professional table tennis, we were continuing to do it at the age of 21 and 22. But I went into Europe and somehow lost my touch with yoga then when I came back and the covet break happened, I felt I could do something which can bring me flexibility and stability so started back with a little bit of yoga during the cold break. Then I felt like a lot of improvement was seen personally for me with regards to the fitness part also, so yoga just doesn’t mean cardio or strengthening it’s a wholesome exercise where you feel completely positive after you finish that session. So that way I was able to be aware you know of my body and my mind and that helped me improve on my physical fitness part and also on the mental fitness.
Q. How has your training regime changed over the years?
A. The body is changing, reflexes are getting slower so I need to keep up with the younger generation. so physical fitness is a very important aspect of table tennis because you know the game is very fast and my reflexes need to be very sharp when I play with the younger players or anybody at the door in the top-level international matches. My fitness Pro-regime has scaled up over the years, Now and then I spend a lot of time taking care of my body let it be stretching.