Sharath hopes to maintain ranking

Kolkata, Jan 18 (PTI) India''s number one paddler AchantaSharath Kamal hopes to maintain his world ranking till June tosecure an Olympic berth.

Having made to the no 2 club in Germany, Ochsenhausen,the current world ranked 40 said it was really big to get abase in the European nation where the practice condition isexcellent.

Talking to PTI on the sidelines of the 72nd SeniorNational table tennis championship here, the CommonwealthGames doubles gold medallist said: "At the moment I am lookingto qualify for the Olympics directly. This is going to happenby June 1. By then I should be within top 40 in the world."

Twenty eight direct entries with two from each countrywill secure an Olympic berth. "If someone else also can makeit, we can have a chance in the team competition," he said.

"The Federation is also trying to help me to play thepro-tours. After this I have the England Open and the QatarOpen, where I am defending some points. Playing well in thesetournaments will help me defend some points to remain in thetop 40."

He said it was tough to make a club in Germany where onlyone foreigner is allowed per club. He had to wait till he wonthe Egypt Open.

"It''s the strongest nation in Europe. Germany are alsothe Olympics silver medallist. I get good practice partnersand good practice conditions. Basically the players are verystrong there and so is the system," he said.

Kamal said, "I wanted to go to Germany in 2009. But Icouldn''t, as I was too weak for the league. Even being WorldNo 70, I was weak for the league.

"Because only one foreign player is allowed for a cluband generally that place is occupied by a Chinese, Japanese ora Korean. So even if an Indian is good, the Chinese arepreferred because of their brand value. So that was one thingwhy I couldn''t get in."

Kamal ended the year 2010 on a high having won a fivestar tournament in Egypt Open beside his victories in US Open,a Commonwealth Games doubles gold with Subhajit Saha and abronze in the team event.

"Luckily I could get in because I won the US Open andthe Egypt Open. With it I broke into the top 50 in the world.

Then they started taking note of me," the unassuming SharathKamal said. .

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