Paddlers Soumyajit Ghosh, Manika Batra book Rio 2016 Olympic Games berths

soumyajit ghosh 26New Delhi: Soumyajit Ghosh and Manika Batra booked their Rio 2016 Olympic Games berths when they emerged winners of their respective groups last night in the Asia Olympic Games Qualification tournament in Hong Kong.

With no other countries from the region participating in the South Asian Zone qualification event, the competition was restricted to the Indian paddlers alone and the four players in each section had to play again one another to grab a spot each.

Ghosh, keeping a clean slate and having won against Sharath Kamal, Anthony Amalraj and Harmeet Desai, topped the group to go through while Manika and K. Shamini had two wins each. However, Manika edged out Shamini having beaten her in the group match.

It was a bit of a shock as Sharath managed just one victory—he beat Harmeet Desai 11-6, 11-9, 12-10, 10-12, 11-5—but Ghosh (11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7) and Anthony Amalraj (7-11, 4-11, 11-9, 9-11, 18-16, 11-6, 11-7) won their respective matches against the ace Indian.

Impeded by injury and with lack of movements hampering him, Sharath was not at his best. On the other hand, Ghosh apart from winning against Sharth, he accounted for Harmeet (11-6, 11-9, 12-10, 10-12, 11-5) and Amalraj (11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7).

Manika started very badly losing the opening contest to Pooja Sahasrabuddhe 7-11, 9-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-5, 7-11, but recovered well to down Shamini (4-11, 11-9, 11-3, 15-13, 8-11, 11-9) and Mouma Das (11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6).

Shamini beat Mouma Das 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5 and then Pooja 11-9, 11-6, 11-2, 13-11. But what hurt her chances badly was the loss she suffered to Manika in the second group match.


Yet, all is not last for Sharath who will be competing in the main Asian qualifiers which begin after the conclusion of other Zone qualifiers. With other Zones throwing up winners, he would have a reasonable field to compete against in Hong Kong. But for Mouma, who too is participating, it will be difficult for her to make the Olympic cut.

But Sharath, whether or not he makes the grade in the Hong Kong event, the Indian should automatically qualify for the Games based on his Olympic rankings which the ITTF will release in the first week of May after all qualification tournaments end this month.