Can`t afford to take pressure in World Qualifiers: Amal Raj

New Delhi: The World Qualifiers in Doha may be the last chance for Indian paddlers to secure a place in the upcoming London Olympics, but national champion Anthony Amalraj is in no mood to get buried under pressure.

"If I take pressure then I won`t be able to pull out a good performance. Taking pressure won`t help. I have to play better and perform well in Doha and remain confident of making it to the Olympics," Amalraj said before flying off to Doha -- the venue for the final round of the World Olympic Qualification Tournament, starting Thursday.

"Anything can happen on a given day and I don`t want to burden myself by thinking about the future in advance. I would rather like to decide things on the table," the paddler added.

Apart from Amalraj, women paddlers Poulomi Ghatak and Kumaresan Shamini also boarded a flight for Doha from the Indira Gandhi International airport early this morning.

Country`s ace paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal will join the team directly in Doha from Germany, where he has training hard ahead of the all-important qualifiers.

Amalraj, who had been practicing hard under the watchful eyes of Polish coach Leszek Kucharski at NIS Patiala, reckoned he was confident enough to take on the challenge.

"I had good 10 days in Patiala. The coaches concentrated a lot on my game and gave me special practice sessions. Everything was done according to my wish. So, I am really feeling confident at the moment," he said.

"There is support from every quarter. Everyone has been really helpful. Sharath also has supported me a lot. Now it is payback time. I have worked hard on my game, and have realised my folly in the previous qualifier. Hopefully the results will be in my favour this time around," he added.

Amalraj had a disappointing outing in the Asian Qualifiers in Hong Kong finishing in the reserves, but he attributed his failure to novelty of the tournament.

"The qualifiers in Hong Kong was my first qualification tournament. Everything was new for me there, there were many good players around but I still managed to beat a few of them. I lost some close matches there," Amalraj said.

India has already grabbed two tickets to London Olympics through Ankita Das and Soumyajit Ghosh in the previous qualifier in Hong Kong, and national coach Bhawini Mukherji is upbeat about the chances of rest of his wards in Doha.

"The preparation has been good, the players are really upbeat," Mukherji said.

"Sharath is seeded seventh in the tournament, which means he will be leading one of the 16 groups. He has a better chance to qualify. Amalraj has improved upon his ranking and he has been seeded 33 for this event. He will have to win a couple of matches more to be in the reckoning," he said.

Mukherji, meanwhile said, "Amalraj has worked hard on his game during the camp in Patiala and so has Poloumi Ghatak and Shamini."

"Shamini in particular has been in good touch. They have a good chance to qualify for the second stage and we will have to see their progress thereafter. The quota is very less so the competition is going to be very tough," he added.

Mukherji said the team will get a days time to acclimatise to the conditions before finally kicking off their campaign on Thursday.

"We will get a day to acclimatise, and we will prepare our strategy after seeing the draw. We have the video recording of many players and depending upon whom we are playing we will devise our gameplan," he said.


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