New Delhi: Having sealed a place in the London Olympics, India`s young paddler Ankita Das aspires to be the first Indian woman to make an impact at the quadrennial extravaganza.
"No Indian woman (paddler) has made a mark in the Olympics, I want to break that jinx. I want people to recognise me," Ankita who is the youngest Indian woman paddler to have qualified for the Olympics said, moments after being accorded a warm welcome in her hometown Siliguri.
Well aware of the challenges, Ankita is keen on improving her game before heading to London.
"I want to improve on all the aspects of my game before heading to the Olympics. I want to get both physically and mentally fit for the challenge so that I can go a long way."
"Olympics is totally a different cup of tea. All the top world ranking players will be there. My entire focus will be to do good for my country and for myself. No Indian women has made a mark in the Olympics, I want to break that myth. I want people to recognise me," she said.
Ankita made the cut for London after she beat compatriot K Shamini 4-3 (8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-13, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8) at Hong Kong last week to emerge as the best-placed player from South Asia.
The paddler praised senior pros Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das for helping her improve her game.
"I have been playing in company of Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak for some time now, both of them have been very encouraging. They always pep me to go a step ahead and have taught me how to go against a top ranked player."
She also did not forget to mention coach Bhawani Mukherjee`s name.
"I am really indebted to Bhawani sir, he has really been an inspirational figure for me. I must concede that whatever I have achieved today is because of him.”
Ankita was barely four when she took to table tennis by chance.
"I was four years old when I had some digestion problem. The doctor advised my father to introduce me to any sport and since Siliguri TT academy was just adjacent to our home, he admitted me there.
"I don`t know when the sport became my passion."
As expected, the feeling of qualifying for the Olympics at such a young age was yet to sink in.
"I am speechless; I really don`t know how to react. This was my first qualifier and I am really lucky to have made it to the London Games. I had the confidence and my coaches also backed me."