Twirling it like a queen

Alisha Shinde
Wednesday, 13 June 2018

I want to take Table Tennis to a level where people start showing interest in the game the way they do in Cricket

Manika Batra, at 22, recently won a gold at the CommonWealth Games 2018. On her visit to Sakal Times office recently, she spoke to us about her journey and more

We live in a country that eats, prays and loves Cricket but Manika Batra decided to stand apart and has been successful at making her name and the sport of Table Tennis known in many Indian households. The 22-year-old Batra won four medals, including a gold, in the women’s singles at the Commonwealth Games 2018 for India.

Life has not been the same for Batra ever since. “No one followed Table Tennis in our country but now when I step out, people recognise me and the support has been really great,” she says with a smile.

And how is she dealing with the fame? Batra says that she is truly enjoying being in the spotlight. “I really hope and wish that I continue being here for my performance in the sport,” she answers. 

Having started playing at the age of four, she developed an interest in the game when she saw her siblings playing it. “I found the game really interesting because of which I grew fond of it.” 

Because of her charming personality,  Batra was even offered a lot of modelling assignments, which she decided to sideline because there is absolutely nothing that stands before Table Tennis for her. “My aim has always been Table Tennis because of which I rejected modelling and I will never regret it,” she says, adding that the sport has always been her number one priority.

She wishes that people give the sport its due recognition and take it to new heights. “I want to take Table Tennis to a level where people start showing interest in the game the way they do in Cricket,” she insists.

Most of the women who participated in CWG 2018 won medals for the country, so somewhere down the line, Batra believes that there is a change in how people look at sportswomen now. “The good part is that the mindset of people towards sportswomen is changing. People now root for them,” she says. This change has been a motivation for many sportswomen because of which they are now able to bring home medals and earn their due respect in society, she believes.   

Victories and defeats are part of any game. Talking about how she deals with defeat, Batra recalls, “As a child, whenever I lost, I would cry my heart out. But now, I have learnt to learn from my mistakes and put forward a better version of myself.” 

She adds that she has now started dealing with defeat smartly and analyses how she can better herself for the upcoming tournaments by working on her mistakes and staying focused.

With Asian Games just round the corner, Batra is constantly on her toes. “I have been working really hard with my coach and will definitely work on performing well at the games,” she adds.

Talking about the cricket crazy fans in India, she points out the media can be of great help if it focuses on other sports. “If the people are made aware of other sports in India and how the players are performing at various tournaments, people will definitely look at other sports with the same interest and love,” Batra stresses.

While she doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeves, she definitely wears it on her nails. Being very fond of nail art, she sports some interesting ones like the tricolour. Says she, “When I serve the ball to the opponent, the first thing I see is my nails and with the tricolour on them, I know the purpose of my being there. It encourages and motivates me.”

Batra has now set her eyes on her next goal — getting India an Olympic medal for Table Tennis for which she is sweating it out every single day.

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