Sathiyan, Manika to team up

The duo will revive the partnership at the Hungarian Open next week

G. Sathiyan and Manika Batra have decided to reunite in mixed doubles in a bid to bring laurels to Indian table tennis at the Paris Olympics in 2024. The duo will start its second stint with the next week’s Hungarian Open, the first World Tour event in the new Olympic cycle.

The development comes barely a fortnight after Manika and A. Sharath Kamal represented India at Tokyo. The duo, which fetched India a historic first Asian Games table tennis medal in the same event in 2019, had qualified for the Olympic after a heroic win over World No. 5 team of Lee Sangsu and Jihee Jneon in the qualifers.

Best shot

“Sathiyan and Manika discussed it after returning from Tokyo. We as personal coaches feel they have the best shot at all the multi-disciplinary games in the next three years,” S. Raman, Sathiyan’s personal coach, told The Hindu on Wednesday.

Sathiyan, Raman, Manika and her personal coach Sanmay Paranjape had a round of discussion before both the players wrote to the Table Tennis Federation of India, Sports Authority of India and Target Olympic Podium Scheme officials last week.

“We have written to all the relevant authorities about charting out a roadmap for their mixed doubles pairing leading up to Paris 2024,” said Raman, who will watch the duo in action in Budapest.

Sathiyan and Manika have had a fruitful stint as a combination early on in their career. In fact, in the last match they played as a team, the duo defeated Sharath and Mouma Das to win the bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Sharath, who wished the duo well, was a tad disappointed with the lack of communication. “I wish both of them well but it would have been better had either of them communicated their decision to me before I got to know it from the federation,” he said.

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