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Kamal aspires for Olympic success

High on confidence after a twin gold medal haul at the Commonwealth Games, paddler Achanta Sharath is aspiring to win medals in the Olympics.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2006 20:22 IST

High on confidence after a twin gold medal haul at the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games, India's top paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal is aspiring to win medals in the Olympics.

The tall and lanky player from Chennai said after their Melbourne medal haul, which also included a bronze in women's team event, the game would recieve a big boost in the country.

The fact that the Indians displayed tough resilience against formidable opponents is also certain to win them more supporters.

"After our performance in Melbourne, table tennis in India has reached the next level. We have raised the bar and now we can set higher goals," Kamal said after his arrival in New Delhi from Melbourne last night.

Admitting that he did not expect to win gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, Kamal said the success inspired him to aspire for medals in Asiad and Olympics.

"This is one of the big moments of my life. Though we were expecting two medals, we did not imagine that we will win two gold medals. This victory is a big achievement and it has given me the confidence to aspire for a medal in the Asian Games and Olympics," Kamal said.

Kamal, who was part of the men's gold winning team and later grabbed the singles title also, said the thrilling victory against Singapore for the team title was a big motivating factor for him ahead of the singles gold medal match.

"Our victory against Singapore in the finals of the team event was very important. And beating a player like Yanz Zi was not easy. It gave me a lot of confidence for the singles round." Thrashing defending champion Segun Toirala in straight games in the men's singles semifinals pepped Kamal further.

"I have lost to Segun twice but I was at my best in the semifinal. My forehand was working great and I did not make any unforced errors. I knew that If I reach the final, I could win the gold," Kamal said.

However, victory in the final did not prove to be a cakewalk as Australia's William Henzell gave a stiff fight and made the Indian sweat for the title.

"I was very nervous before the match, I could not keep my focus. I lost some important points to come under pressure. But then I got my rhythm back in the last game," the PSPB paddler said.

About the World Championship scheduled next month, Kamal said better rankings would put him in good stead for the competition.

"I will be taking part in the World Championships and then Asian Games. My performance in Melbourne will put me 20 to 30 places higher in world rankings. And I am looking ahead to carry forward my form and put on a good show," he added.