Defending champ Amalraj aims for encore at Nationals

New Delhi: A Amalraj might have shelled out a hefty fine for his over-the-top celebrations after clinching his maiden national Table Tennis title last year, but the Chennai-lad does not rule out another impulsive celebration in case he manages to repeat the feat.

"I haven`t thought about it (celebrations). I will do whatever comes to my mind. You don`t plan such things in advance," Amalraj said.

He was penalised 25 per cent of his prize money purse of Rs 2.1 lakh for first throwing the racquet and then jumping on the table in celebration.

Realising that there will be tough competition from the likes of young Soumyajit Ghosh, current number one, and seasoned Achanta Sharath Kamal, Amalraj said his priority would be to begin well in the event which starts on January 7 in Ranchi, Chattisgarh.

"My first focus would be to start well. And then build up on it. I will look to give my 100 per cent," a confident Amalraj said.

The 25-year-old seems upbeat about his chances after his good performances at the international level last season.

"Last year, I realised my dream of winning the Nationals. I have performed well in Asian championships and beat some really good players. I also improved on my world rankings from 215 odd to 139 presently," the paddler, who has recently returned from a four-month long training from Poland, said.

"Only thing I regret is not qualifying for the Olympics in London. Otherwise, I am pretty satisfied with my performance," he added.

Meanwhile, defending women`s champion Poulomi Ghatak is expecting competition from the top-eight players in the national circuit as she feels all are almost similar.

"I am training hard. I think top-eight players are almost similar. I am expecting good competition from the likes of K Shamini and Ankita Das among others," the seven-time national champion said.

Poulomi, too, was pleased with her performance in the year gone by except for the failure to book a place in the London Olympics.

"I had to cope with injuries in my back, ankle and knee. Overall, I performed pretty well last year," Poulomi said.

The paddler recently won three medals, including a bronze in singles, silver in doubles and a gold in the team event, at Fajr Cup in Iran.

She also participated in a training camp at the prestigious Werner Schlager in Austria.

Her target for 2013 includes retaining her national title apart from winning a medal in the Commonwealth Championships scheduled in Delhi in May.


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