A. Sharath Kamal being felicitated by the officials.
In October 2016, for the first time in nearly 16 years, six-time National Table Tennis Champion A. Sharath Kamal competed in the qualifying rounds of a domestic tournament. All National newspapers spread one headline: “Sharath Starts from Scratch”.
Every Stalwart from the Table Tennis fraternity and press would never have anticipated that within a span of few months, Sharath would once again emerge winner in the biggest tournament on the national scene –The National Championships.
He is considered to be one of the best table tennis players that India has ever produced
For Sharath Kamal, the long wait for a National table tennis title is finally over.
On Sunday,5th January 2017, Sharath’s six-year wait for a seventh singles title ended when he overpowered two-time winner Soumyajit Ghosh in six games.
At 34, Sharath showed the kind of stuff he is made of. Before Sharath made light of a 1-8 deficit in the third game to script a 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 11-5 in the final, he had to encounter battle from the brink of ouster in the semifinals.
Sharath overcame Harmeet Desai 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 10-12, 7-11, 14-12, 11-9 after saving two match-points at 8-10 in the sixth game. In the deciding game, Sharath trailed 1-5 but battled all the way to hold five match-points at 10-5. Thereafter, Desai played four brilliant points to make it 9-10 but netted a service return in to the net to let Sharath get away to the final.
This is what Sharath had to say after the finals:
“I think, the final was my best match of the week. I think, in the final, Ghosh lacked the energy with which he normally plays. He played doubles too and that took its toll,” said a generous Sharath after the final. “Against Harmeet, it was tough because he refused to give any negative points and that frustrated me. That was tough.”
Sharath is considered to be one of the best Table Tennis players that India has ever produced till date.
Achanta Sharath Kamal Profile
• First Indian to win gold medal at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship
• First Indian to win gold medal at the Commonwealth Games
• Won Arjuna Award in 2004
A venerated tennis player of India, Achanta Sharath Kamal became the toast of the nation after the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. In his short career span, Kamal has a lot of firsts to his credit. He was the person who gave India its first ever individual gold medal at Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Incidentally, Sharath is the only Indian Men's Table Tennis player to be selected for the Beijing Olympics. He is also the first Indian player to bag the title in Pyongyong Invitational Tournament.
Early Life & Introduction To Table Tennis
Achanta Sharath Kamal was born on July 12, 1982 in Tamil Nadu, India and hails from a Telugu speaking family. An alumnus of PSBB Nungambakkam School, he completed his graduation from Loyola College, Chennai. Kamal, boasting of a natural tendency to play the game was keenly devoted to it as well. Ever since his debut in 2003 striking gold, there has been no looking back for this ace player. Sharath Kamal showed glimpse of his abundant talent, when burst into the State senior scene winning all the Tamil Nadu State-ranking titles at stake. He won his maiden National Championship in 2003.
Kamal's sheer enthusiasm and passion for the game was much prevalent, as he reached the height of success at an early stage of his life. In 2004, Kamal won the men's singles gold in the 16th Commonwealth table tennis championship held at Kuala Lumpur. Though Indian players had reached the final on three occasions previously, it was Sharath Kamal who became the first to deliver the knockout punch. He also captained the Indian men's team on roads of victory, as it was during the same championship that India defeated favorites and nine-time champions England. In the same year, this ace player represented India in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and had been the India No. 1 for four years thence.
In 2004, Kamal was conferred with Arjuna Award, one of the highest civilian awards, in India. As if this were not enough, the 2006 Commonwealth Games held in Melbourne further elevated the position of this outstanding player, as Sharath Kamal became the first ever individual gold medalist. Apart from rejoicing the victory of bagging the individual gold medal, he also played a pivotal role in helping the Indian team clinch gold in the table tennis team event against Singapore. He also has represented the country in the 2006 Asian Games at Qatar. With two gold medals in the kitty, the adrenaline rush was high in Kamal.
Kamal became one of the top players of the country, highly acclaimed and applauded one. Having received motivation and appreciation from the internationally known tennis players, Kamal took part in the championships and leagues, some of which were Spanish First League, Asian Championship, Pro Tour Chile Open, World Table Tennis Championship, Commonwealth Championship and Pro Tour Japan Open. In 2007, he was the first Indian to win the Pyongyong Invitational Tournament held at Pyongyong, North Korea. However, his was best was when Kamal defeated World No. 19, Lee Jung Woo.
He is considered to be one of the best table tennis players that India has ever produced, and had a best world ranking of 32 in May 2015.