India’s top-ranked paddler Sharath Kamal recalled how he was inspired after Olympic medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathod invited the entire Table Tennis team for breakfast during the 2008 Beijing Games. The Chennai-based player is gearing up to qualify for his fourth Olympic appearance next year.
Sharath Kamal was only 22 when he represented India at the Olympics for the first time, in Athens, in 2004 when he could hardly gauge the intensity of being a part of the spectacle. But, he has fond memories of meeting Leander Paes and Rajyavardhan Rathod, who went on to claim a Silver medal in that edition. But, it was only in the 2008 Beijing Olympics that he actually got into the groove of the occasion and realised the importance of the event.
“In 2008, I understood the Olympics is a special tournament and it needs special preparations. In 2004, I was just selected and things were too fast. By the time I realized what the Olympics meant, it was over. But in 2008, I actually understood the importance and how people struggle to even represent their country. My means were limited, but I prepared the best I could,” said Sharath Kamal, as reported by the Olympicchannel.com.
Sharath Kamal would go on to reach the round of 32 in China, but there was also an incident that he vividly remembers. It was during their stay in Beijing that Rajyavardhan Singh Rathod invited the Table Tennis for breakfast, a gesture that inspired the paddler very much.
“In 2008, Rathore asked me to join him for breakfast. He invited the entire table tennis team to come and have breakfast with him and that was really very special. That inspires you a lot,” said Sharath, who is aiming to qualify for his fourth Olympics next year in Tokyo.