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Stranger in a strange land: An Indian champ who almost got stuck in Oman due to the pandemic

Sharath Kamal recalls how rumours around Covid-19 were doing the rounds at the tournament.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 11, 2020, 10.51 AM IST
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When Kamal was at the Oman Open, there was a lot of stress and chatter about the coronavirus.
When Kamal was at the Oman Open, there was a lot of stress and chatter about the coronavirus.
Indian table-tennis player Sharath Kamal returned just before the lockdown in India from Oman where he won his first title in a decade.

He was in quarantine for 14 days with his family as his kids missed him and wanted to spend time with him.

"Gyms are closed and there's no table tennis happening also. My personal quarantine is over, I plan to go to my mom's house where there is a table and do some service practice. I can also play there with my brother, my dad if things are fine. With the lockdown situation, I am not sure if that will be possible," he told ET Panache from his home in Chennai.

Mind games
When the Oman Open was on, there was mental stress also that Kamal had to deal with because of the coronavirus. He shared, "There was a lot of speculation there. The tournament was around the same time that the virus was announced a pandemic. Lot of the table-tennis players there didn't know if we could get back to our home countries, would we be able to travel, if flights are taking off. There was a lot of stress at that point of time. But somehow with the help of my mental coach who kept telling me to concentrate on what has to be done and to face the problems later on, I was able to deal with it."

The Oman win has been a moment that mentally strengthened the 37-year-old. He said, "I am very happy that I was able to win. There is a lot of confidence that I got as it shows me that I am on the right track in planning, training, frame of mind. The Olympic qualifiers were to happen next month and the Olympics in a few months. But unfortunately everything has been changed and they have been shifted to 2021."

Destination Japan
When table-tennis is back on, Kamal is hoping to have momentum in his favour.

In his mind it's very clear what he needs to do to make it to Japan. "The Olympic Games being postponed is a little tough as an athlete to hear the decision. Even though it's the right decision as far as humanity is concerned. I will have to continue the process for over 15 months now and keep travelling for the tournaments around the world to keep my world ranking up," he ended.

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