More to Commonwealth Games 2018 star Manika Batra than table tennis

Manika Batra, who won four medals at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, says she unwinds by following her passion dancing, and copes with defeats by doing meditation.

other sports Updated: Apr 22, 2018 10:37 IST
Avishek Roy
Avishek Roy
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
2018 Commonwealth Games,Manika Batra,Table tennis
Manika Batra did not use her phone during the Commonwealth Games to stay focused.(HT Photo)

Besides her game, what caught the attention of people was Manika Batra’s tri-colour painted nails. As she swiftly moved her hands on the table, flashes of the tri-colour could be seen. Manika loves to flaunt her love for India.

While it became a talking point on social media, Manika was totally focused on the job at hand — winning medals for India. In fact, she didn’t use her mobile during competition and depended on her teammate Mouma Das’s to stay in touch with coach Sandeep Gupta.

“The flag on my nails is an extension of the flag in my heart. Whenever I am down in a game, I see the flag and get the energy and motivation from there,” says Manika.

“It was surreal when the national anthem was played; I soaked in the moment.”

It is only recently that Manika has opened a twitter account. She says she is not very active on social media as she doesn’t want her focus to waver from the game. “I have to see how much time I can spend on social media.”

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Since returning from Gold Coast, Manika hasn’t got time to catch up with friends or indulge in her favourite pastime, shopping. She has been caught in the whirlwind of media and felicitations. “I have a small group of friends but they would understand. I love to go shopping with my mother and try out new clothes.”

Away from the gruelling training, Manika unwinds by following her passion -- dancing. “It can be any music, I break into a dance.”

She is very intense while playing and her family members say Manika reserves all her energy for matches. But losses don’t affect her. She quickly moves on, and meditation has helped keep her calm. She practices Art of Living.

“I have been doing meditation and it has helped me focus. Earlier, I used to brood over my losses, but now I know it is important to lose sometimes. You learn from defeats. With back-to-back tournaments, there is no time to think about defeats, you learn and move on.”

Sportspersons are also brand ambassadors of society and more and more athletes are speaking out against gender inequality and crime against women. Manika also strongly feels about these issues. “There should be strict laws to stop crime against women,” she says.

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She has grown up following the likes of Saina Nehwal, MC Mary Kom and Sharath Kamal. “I used to watch them on TV, I wanted to be like them, represent India and win laurels. I am happy I was able to do what Sharath Kamal did in 2006 CWG in Melbourne for men’s table tennis. At Gold Coast he told me ‘now it’s your turn to make the sport popular’ and I am up for the challenge.”

First Published: Apr 22, 2018 10:28 IST