Sharath eyeing top 50 ranking and Beijing Olympics berth

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Chennai, Feb 04 (UNI) Buoyed by his four title triumphs in the just concluded senior national championships, Tamil Nadu's Achantha Sharath Kamal is eyeing a top 50 finish in 2008 and a berth for this year's Beijing Olympics from the Asia quota.

Talking to reporters hours before his departure to Spain for training for the upcoming World Championship and the all-important Olympic Qualifiers next month, Sharath, ranked 79 in the world, said he was planning to finish the year among the top 50.

''For this I have to come out with consistent performances, beat top 20 players in two or three tournaments. I need to play some good game to finish on top 50'', he added.

However, in the next two months, where he would playing two big events back to back -- the World championship in China (February 24 to March 2) and the Olympic qualifiers at Hong Kong from March 6 to 11 and a couple of tournaments -- Sharath did not see a drastic jump in his rankings as he would be playing against those who were equal to him.

''I am planning to play ten international tournaments this year and I need to dish out some upset wins against some top players to achieve the target of finishing among top 50'', he added.

Stating that his six-month training at Spain has shown a lot of improvement in his performance and led to winning four golds for the first time in the nationals at Siliguri a couple of days ago, the 26-year-old paddler said he was looking for an Olympic berth from Asian Quota this time.

A finish among the top seven in the Olympic qualifiers would give him a berth to Beijing from the Asia quota. ''For the 2004 Olympics in Athens, I qualified from South Asia quota, finishing 11th in the qualifiers''.

''This year, I have a good chance of finishing among top seven and earn an Asia quota for Olympics'', he said and added about 30 countries would participate in it.

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