After three failed attempts to qualify for the London Olympics ended an ordinary season for Achantha Sharath Kamal, there is finally some reason to cheer. India's top paddler - Sharath Kamal is currently ranked 73rd- has been inducted into the German national table tennis programme as a sparring partner.
"I have now moved to Duesseldorf for this programme. I now have a coach, a video analyst and a trainer for myself. I get to train with the likes of Timo Boll, who is among the top 10 in the world, and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who won bronze at the London Games," said Sharath Kamal, who was till now playing for different clubs in the Bundesliga.
"I will not be playing for a club this season because the training schedule is not likely to permit that. My plan now is to play only in the pro tour, which will help get my ranking up. The idea is to get into the top 50 and stay there. The longer plan is to prepare for Rio. The Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games will be good platforms to test myself in between," he said, on the sidelines of the All India inter-institutional table tennis championships here on Thursday.
In hindsight, Sharath Kamal felt that it was good that he did not make it to London.
"Anyway, going by my preparation, I might have qualified and that would be it. I was no way close to being a contender. But in Rio I want to go as someone who is fit and dangerous."
The second thing that has come as pleasant surprise is his inclusion in an Asian team for the Euro-Asia Event European Stage table tennis to be held at Vendee, France in October.
"It's a great honour. I would be somewhere in the 30s in the Asian rankings. But what got me into the team could be the fact that the Chinese know my potential," they said.