India Today

Paddle Power


Sreeja Akula, the current women’s singles national champion, showed her flair and grit as she pushed the first seed and eventual winner Feng Tianwei to seven sets in the semi-final and then narrowly lost the bronze medal tie. Akula, though, didn’t return empty-handed from Birmingham. She teamed up with her idol and table tennis royalty Sharath Kamal Achanta or ‘Sharath bhaiya’ as she calls him to win the mixed doubles gold. This was the duo’s first tournament together, which makes the feat all the more impressive.

A Hyderabad native, Akula picked up the paddle at the age of nine, drawn to the sport courtesy her father, also a TT player, and sister. Her immediate target now is to carry the momentum to coming internatio­nal tournament­s, improve her world ranking (she’s now No. 76) and qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. —SS

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