Manika Batra creates history by becoming first Indian woman table tennis player to win singles gold at Commonwealth Games.
Paddlers often complain about the unpredictability generated by long-pimpled rubbers. Manika Batra, though, knew exactly how they would behave, and was quietly confident of the panic it would create in the Singapore camp. Ultimately, her plan reaped rich rewards. The Indian, ranked 58th in the world, proved her win against higher-ranked Singaporeans earlier this week wasn’t a fluke as she repeated the performance to win her second gold of the Games, and third overall.
She also became the only Indian woman to clinch gold at the Commonwealth Games and repeated the feat achieved by Sharath Kamal at the Melbourne Games in 2006 by winning the individual and team gold.
Batra dominated her higher-ranked opponent Mengyu Yu in the final, winning 11-7, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7. Earlier in the day, she had beaten world No. 4 Tianwei Feng for the second time in a week.
And it wasn’t a coincidence — instead, it was a well thought out strategy, that began with her equipment.
To combat the spin and speed of the Singaporean players, Batra resorted to using long-pimpled rubber, which allowed her to slow down play and focus on strategy. Hand skills became more important than movement and power while at the same time, frustrating the Singaporeans with the unpredictability of her shots.
10 Interesting facts
- Manika Batra was born on 15 June 1995 in New Delhi, India.
- The 19-year-old started playing table tennis at the tender age of 5 and was influenced by her elder sister, Anchal who also plays the game.
- She rejected a scholarship to train at the Peter Karlsson Academy in Sweden at the age of 16.
- The youngster studied at the Jesus and Mary College for a year but decided to drop out in order to concentrate on table tennis.
- Manika represented India in table tennis at the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow in 2014 where she was a quarterfinalist.
- The peddler won two silver medals in the team events and a bronze medal in the singles category at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in December 2015.
- She clinched the gold medal in the 2nd division of the World Table Tennis Team Championships in March 2016.
- Sachin Tendulkar is considered by her as an inspiration and also admires Saina Nehwal a lot.
- In 2011, she won the silver medal in the U21 category of Chile Open.
- The 5’10 tall upcoming star won three gold medals and one silver medal at the 12th South Asian Games in Guwahati and Shillong this year.