KOLKATA: Indian paddlers failed to win berths in Tokyo Olympics, with all four contenders making early exits from the World Singles Qualification Tournament at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena in Doha. A total of nine places, four men and five women, were up for grabs in this tournament.
While the men’s duo of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran were knocked out on Sunday, both the women’s paddlers Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee could not progress to the finals of knockout rounds, which would have kept them in contention for Olympic tickets in the singles events.
National champion Manika Batra came close before going down to World No. 44 Yang Xiaoxin of Monaco 1-4 in the semifinals of her knockout group. Yang made a great start winning the first game 11-9 and then outplayed 25-year-old Batra in the second grabbing it 11-4. However, the Indian World No. 63 made a great comeback to win the third game 11-8, but she failed to hold on to her rhythm the next two going down 4-11, 9-11.
Earlier, Mukherjee, who got past Belgium’s Lisa 4-0 in the first match of the knockout rounds, lost out to Russia’s Polina Mikhailova in the knockout quarterfinals. The former national champion, however, did put up a good fight before losing 2-4.
Mukherjee won the first game 12-10, but lost the next two 7-11, 8-11. She pulled things back with an 11-8 win in the fourth and fought hard in the fifth losing 12-10. However, the Russian rival outplayed her in the last game winning 11-5.
The Indian paddlers will train eyes at the Asian qualifying event, which begins on March 18, to book their places at Tokyo Games.