Sutirtha sets eyes on the Olympic berth

MUMBAI: There is currently very little to separate the best female rowers from India and that is one of the reasons Sutirtha Mukherjee The win at the 81st UTT Table Tennis National Championship in Hyderabad on Sunday was special.

It was the second national crown of the 24-year-old girl, won her first in Ranchi in 2017, and brought some joy after the heartbreak that India suffered recently, being unable to qualify for the team event of the Tokyo Olympic Games .

I am very happy with the way I acted in the Nationals Sutirtha, who beat Krittwika Sinha Roy in the final, told TOI on Monday. "Barring some difficulty in the quarterfinals, I had a smooth run," she added. Prior to the Nationals , Sutirtha had played a pivotal role in keeping India's hopes alive at the world team qualification tournament in Portugal, beating Romania's World No. 19 Bernadette Szocs.

It's really disappointing that we couldn't qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the team event after being so close. But, we can still qualify for the individual event, and I will have to keep improving to get there, said Sutirtha, who is currently ranked 157th in the world. So what do you need to do to have the opportunity to book a ticket to Tokyo? After the nationals win, I will be ranked number 1 in the country when the new list comes out. I will have to keep improving and I will play tournaments in Portugal and Hungary in the coming weeks. I need to improve my ranking. to qualify, he explained.

The girl from Calcutta has come a long way after the table Indian Tennis Federation (TTFI) had suspended her and three other players from Bengal for allegedly fudging their age records in 2015. "It was a difficult phase in life for me. But, I was lucky to have the full support of my parents and coaches. They kept encouraging me to stay motivated and not let negative thoughts affect me. I remember, I did not miss a single day's training even in that period. I kept working on my fitness and won the Nationals once I was back on the circuit," she recalled.

Although both male and female teams failed to cut for the Tokyo team event, Indian table tennis is witnessing a bit high and Sutirtha attributes the role played by Ultimate Table Tennis, the main league in the country. We have the opportunity to interact and compete with some of the best in the world. We spend time with them learning from each other and that has definitely helped, he said.