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Tokyo-bound paddlers get a 19-day camp boost




New Delhi, June 15: Three of the four Olympics-bound paddlers—A. Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, and Sutirtha Mukherjee—will finally get their chance to train together at a 19-day camp before they board their flight to Tokyo. G. Sathiyan, however, will continue training in Chennai under his coach S. Raman.


The camp at DPS (Sonepat) will start on June 17 and end on July 5. The SAI-approved camp is the result of some last-ditch efforts from the TTFI and the players. Since their Asian Qualification events in March at Doha, where they earned their berths, the players had to confine themselves to their home states as the pandemic played havoc with its second wave in the country. So much so, Sharath and Sathiyan stayed in Chennai, Manika in Pune and Sutirtha in Kolkata, practising in a limited way.


Sharath admitted the camp will certainly help them. “For one, it will change our mood. All of us have been training individually because of the pandemic. Now we can focus on the job at hand. We will also be able to push our limits with different sparring partners,” he said.


Sharath also said that Manika and himself needed to practice long enough before the Games. “We did a three-day session in Chennai, but that was too short for our satisfaction. Then the pandemic prevented us from any further sessions. The fortnight-long camp should help us,” he added.


Sathiyan, on the other hand, said that he preferred training in Chennai because he would get to practice on the Sanei table he was procuring. “I am expecting it (the table) before the end of this month. At the Games, this brand will be in use. My coach and I have chalked out our programme,” he said.


Somyadeep Roy, most likely to be named as the team coach in Tokyo and Arun Basak will have nine other paddlers to train the three players. SAI has also approved a sparring partner in Aakash Pal for Sutirtha, besides a personal coach (Sanmay Paranjape) and physio (Dhanjay Dubey) for Manika. Over and above, there will be other support staff, making the Sonepat camp a 20-member strong squad.


Lists of campers:


Men: A. Sharath Kamal, Manav Thakkar, Sanil Shetty, Ronit Bhanja, Manush Shah and Payas Jain.


Women: Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Reeth Rishya, Diya Chitale, Prapti Sen and Kaushani Nath.


Coches: Soumyadeep Roy and Arup Basak.


Support staff: Amarjit Singh.