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Manav excited to be part of Asiad squad

He’s a player to watch out for, says Sharath Kamal

Even as the seniors were nicely flowing the ball on the table, Manav Thakkar, a young paddler from Surat, was quietly watching them all from the sidelines. He probably wanted to pick up a few techniques from there as it may come in handy the next few months.

The junior World No. 3 has got three big challenges ahead of him — Asian juniors (Myanmar) and Asian Games (Indonesia) and Youth Olympics (Argentina). “My immediate focus in on the Asian juniors [Aug 13-18],” Manav told The Hindu here on Friday.

But he may have to skip the team’s training in China ahead of the Asiad this month. “I will miss it badly but it will be a training of sorts in Myanmar as well. Also, it’s going to add to my advantage, if I win a medal there,” he quickly adds.

The youngest

At 18, Manav is probably the youngest paddler to represent India at the Asiad. “I am really excited as it is going to be my first big team event outside India. I can learn a lot seeing the seniors play,” he says.

“I am also looking at the Youth Olympics. I want to go out there and win a medal,” adds Manav, who has stunned even the best with his powerful backhand play.

The seniors are also having a close look at him.

“He is one who controls the ball well. His anticipation is fantastic and it’s always nice to watch him play. He is also pretty consistent and is clearly the next player to watch out for at the senior level,” says Indian paddler Sharath Kamal.

“If he is picked for the Asiad at this age it means he is very good.

“He is a PSPB product, and obviously a quality player, who is least scared of his opponents.

“I think in the space of four years he will hit the top 50 bracket in the world senior rankings,” adds India’s other star A. Amalraj.

But Manav wants to take it one step at a time.

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