A. Sharath Kamal rolled over Petroleum Sports Promotion Board compatriot Anthony Amalraj to pocket a record-equalling eighth men’s title in the 79th sports National Table Table Tennis Championship, which concluded at Ranchi’s Mega Sports Complex on 30 January 2018. Sharath thus equalled Kamlesh Mehta’s tally of eight titles between 1982-83 and 1993-94.
The 35-year-old veteran, who had won his first national crown 15 years ago, then headed straight towards the dais to receive a warm hug from Mehta, now a national selector. But I sincerely feel me doing it for eight times is much easier than him achieving it back them. Since I was way ahead than the competition during my peak, I won many Nationals where I just had to go through the motions. He had to overcome tough competition from multiple players who were at the same level.
Having accounted for in-form G. Sathiyan in the semifinals earlier in the day, Sharath took his time to settle against Amal. Sharath let Amal dominate the opening game but once he had eyes set, maintained a clear lead in the second to level the match. This year, it was more like a routine. That pressure of not wanting to lose so much also worked in my favour. I feel I am back at my best and in a good shape for the Commonwealth Games. I hope I can translate this form and win the Commonwealth gold.