The Interesting Story of Manika Batra who Refused Modelling to Concentrate on Table Tennis
The image of Manika Batra raising her arms and putting up a smile after a tense final encounter to win the Gold medal for India would remain etched in all Indian minds. But life hasn’t been that easy for the little known Batra, who beat World Number 4 Tianwei Feng to hand Singapore team their first defeat at the Commonwealth Games.
Born and brought up in Delhi, the 22-year-old took after her two siblings, both national players, to take up the racquet sport. It wasn’t long till she started making great inroads. At 15, she won the silver medal in her first national level competition. She then decided to shift to Hans Raj Model School to train under renowned coach Sandeep Gupta.
But there was another avenue which was open to her- Modelling. Having walked the ramp a few times, Manika was offered multiple modelling assignments in Delhi and Mumbai. However, it was her first love Table Tennis that she stuck to. “People should know me through table tennis. Already, Sharath Bhaiyya ke saath mera bhi naam aa raha hain [my name is being taken along with Sharath Kamal Achanta – India’s most successful paddler],” she once said.
She took admission in the renowned Jesus and Mary College in Delhi but dropped out after a year due to her sporting commitments. Over the years Batra has managed to become the best ranked table tennis player in India:
- She represented India at Glasgow Games 2014, finishing as the quarterfinalist.
- She dominated the South Asian Games in 2016, winning 3 Gold medals.
- Took part in Rio Olympics 2016, losing to Katarzyna Grzybowska of Poland in the first round of the women’s individual event.
Is currently ranked 58 in the world, the top ranking for any player from India.
This is just the start for the lanky girl from Delhi as she hopes to put up a better performance at the Olympics to be held in Tokyo in 2020.