“I begin training by 7.30-8am on normal days. But ahead of the Olympics, I would wake up before 5 and commence my training routine by 5.45am. The practice matches and training modules were all synced to Tokyo timing. Everyone at the camp would be up as well and that was so heartening,” the 39-year-old told TOI.
Sharath went a step ahead and even tried having his meals in Tokyo time, but it proved to be a difficult exercise. “I can’t ask lunch to be prepared at 10am. So, it was tough but I made sure other key aspects such as my sleeping patterns were in their (Tokyo) time,” the world no. 32 revealed.
The 5 magical rings! @Tokyo2020 🇯🇵🗼🇮🇳#Cheer4India #StrongerTogether https://t.co/ogw0MiEdnL
— Sharath Kamal OLY (@sharathkamal1) 1626754600000
He may be featuring in his fourth Olympics but Sharath concedes he is at his fittest. “Fitness-wise, I am in the best possible shape. Also, this is by far the best preparation I have had ahead of the Games,” he said. Once Sharath qualified for Tokyo at the Asian Olympic qualifiers at Doha in March, he went back to the drawing board. He made those little changes to his serves, receives and other strokes in his game. “Not only in my receives, I also worked on bringing in serves with different timing, different starting positions and different spins. It is about making those minute adjustments that catch the opponent off-guard,” mentioned Sharath.
He has also been working with strength and conditioning coach Ramji Srinivasan to stay on top of his game. “Olympics is all about raising your game at that particular moment. Optimum utilisation of energy, analysing sleep patterns, biomechanical analytics have helped me understand my body better. The entire process has definitely aided in my preparations,” he said.
First practice session underway here in Tokyo! 🏓 🇯🇵 🇮🇳#Tokyo2020 #StrongerTogether @Tokyo2020 @IndiaSports… https://t.co/NU0CMbXo16
— Sharath Kamal OLY (@sharathkamal1) 1626682606000
Sharath’s fine-tuning hasn’t been restricted to his game alone. His diet too has undergone a number of changes. He has begun to add more superfoods as part of his food intake. “From Chamomile tea, detox water, lemon water, ginger and turmeric — I have made sure these were consumed as they provide good energy levels and lessen inflammation of muscles,” pointed out Sharath.
Having made his Olympics debut back at Athens in 2004, will this be his last? “I really don’t know (if it’s my final Games). For me, it is about having fun, training hard and having the drive to beat any opponent in front of me. As long as that’s there, I will keep going,” Sharath said.