The paddler became the first Indian female to win a medal at the Asian Table Tennis Cup.
Manika Batra recently made headlines by becoming the first Indian woman paddler to win a bronze medal at the 33rd edition of the Asian Table Tennis Cup held in Bangkok, Thailand. Chetan Baboor was the last Indian paddler to win a medal at the Asian Cup. Now, Manika Batra broke the 22-year-old medal drought in 2022. She was under all sorts of pressure after failing to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, in 2022 and had a decent outing at the National Games.
Being the underdog Manika performed extremely well with no pressure making her play freely. After her impressive run at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, this has to be the next golden moment for the paddler. In this article let us look at the top 5 moments in her career.
5. First Indian in the Top 50
Manika Batra became the first Indian to feature inside the top 50 of the ITTF single rankings. There are many paddlers in the past who had a golden run with the likes of Neha Aggarwal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But it was Manika Batra who took women’s table tennis to next level by reaching the top 50. She is currently at World No. 44 with the highest being 38. Sreeja Akula is slowly catching up behind and will be the future of Indian table Tennis going forward.
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4. First Indian to reach the third round of the Olympics
Manika Batra became the first Indian to reach round 3 of the Olympics (2020 Tokyo). She along with Achanta Sarath Kamal (men’s singles) were the only two paddlers to reach round 3 of the Tokyo Olympics. Manika Batra beat higher-ranked opponents in the opening rounds at the Tokyo Olympics. There have been many female paddlers like Mouma Das who have played at the Olympics several times but couldn’t progress after the initial rounds.
3. Top 5 in mixed doubles rankings
The pairing of Manika Batra and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran is currently ranked in the top 5 in mixed doubles. Recently the mixed doubles pairing finished runners-up at the WTT Contender Slovenia and is on a good run. The pairing also reached the quarterfinals of the World Championships held in 2021 where they lost to the Japanese pairing of Harimoto and Hayata.
2. Showcased exemplary performance against Top 10 paddlers
Manika Batra after coming into the Asian Cup tournament as an underdog performed exceptionally well beating World No. 7, World No. 2, and World No. 6 to win the bronze medal. In the semifinals, Manika gave her best against World No. 5 Mima Ito of Japan winning two sets. At the five H2H this was the first time that Manika had won two sets against Ito. In the bronze medal playoffs, the Indian paddler beat three times Asian Champion Hina Hayata (4-2). Beating two top 10 opponents in a single tournament is never easy and Manika achieved the feat within a gap of two days.
1. Gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games
The 2018 Commonwealth Games is where Manika Batra got all her recognition and back then was considered to be the next star in the making in the women’s section. The Indian won the gold medal in the singles event defeating World No. 4 Feng Tianwei of Singapore en route to the finals. Along with winning the gold in singles she also won multiple medals in team events as well.