With the aim of supporting and highlighting various other sports and sportspersons participating at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals today invited veteran table-tennis player Sharath Kamal for an Instagram Live session which was hosted by the franchise’s captain Sanju Samson.
In order to wish our contingent well for the mega-event, and to utilize the franchise’s social media platforms to create buzz and spread awareness around Olympic sports, Royals’ skipper was involved in a captivating conversation with one of India’s greatest-ever table tennis players.
“India is definitely proud to have had an athlete like you representing us in some of the biggest tournaments around the world. With four Commonwealth Games’ Gold Medals, two Asian Games’ Medals and also the prestigious Arjuna and Padma Shri Awards to your name, you’ve been an inspiration to so many of us and I am sure you will go all out for an Olympic Medal in Tokyo,” said Sanju as he introduced the 38-year-old to the Royals’ fans.
Meanwhile, Kamal, who also happens to be a huge cricket fanatic, wished Sanju well for his upcoming stint with the Indian cricket team in Sri Lanka. “It’s a huge opportunity for you, and I am sure that you will be making the most of it, and helping us win some matches. Your performances with the Rajasthan Royals earlier this season were scintillating, and maybe I will start supporting the Royals from now on (laughs),” expressed the record nine-time national table tennis champion.
Reflecting on how the postponement of the Olympics to 2021 affected his preparations, Kamal said, “The one year break did put a halt to my preparations for quite some time because I had started preparing in 2019, but had to stop mid-way. I picked it up again in August 2020, and right now, I’m in the national camp and another 15-20 days to go before we get to Tokyo for the big thing.”
In what will be his fourth Olympic Games, Kamal said he is confident of India doing well. “In the past few years, we’ve made giant strides, and winning the Bronze medals at the Asian Games was an indication of how far we have come. I believe we have the chance to really get a medal now in Tokyo because our real competition has always been the other Asian countries. We have some exciting players in our ranks, expectations are high and the pressure is definitely there, but we believe in ourselves,” he said.
On the other hand, Sanju reminisced how he would follow the Olympics as a youngster growing up. “I remember at the age of 10, my father would watch the Olympics very nervously, and I would sit with him to watch some hockey matches when the legendary Dhanraj Pillay was playing. We would watch other sports also, and over time, I’ve developed a huge liking for all the sports. I will certainly be watching these Games very closely and supporting you all,” said the 26-year-old.
The two athletes shifted their focus to some lighter topics before wrapping up the brief session as they discussed Tamil & Malayalam movies, their respective families and backgrounds, and how Sanju has been a big fan of South Indian superstar Rajnikanth, with Kamal also crediting his wife for always proving to be a solid support system for him and helping him focus on his playing career.
Highlighting two of India’s biggest sportspersons in hockey skipper Manpreet Singh and veteran table tennis star Sharath Kamal over the course of this past week, the Royals hope to build on their vision of impacting lives through cricket, and would like to extend their support to other sports as India aims to secure their highest medal tally ever at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
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By Tapas Bhattacharya