Manika Batra has become a household name due to her brilliance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in a table tennis singles event. The 25-year-old has set the bar high for the generations to come.
Born in Delhi on June 15 1995, Manika took up the sport at a very young age. She won an Under 8 state-level tournament.
She then started training under Sandeep Gupta. It was Gupta, along with her mother, who helped Batra decide that she should focus on table tennis and give up on modelling offers.
Manika’s first major success at the international level came in the year 2011 when she won a silver medal in the Under-21 category at the Chile Open. Three years later, she represented India at the Commonwealth Games and Asian games where she could not win a medal.
She won three medals at the Commonwealth table tennis Championship 2015 which also included a bronze in women’s singles. Batra won three gold medals at the 2016 South Asian Games but was denied a gold medal in the women’s singles event after she lost the final to experienced Mouma Das.
She qualified for the Rio Olympics at the age of 20, where she lost to Katarzyna Grzybowska of Poland in the first round of the women’s individual event.
Two years later at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia, Manika led Indian Women’s team pull off a huge upset against defending champions Singapore. The Singapore women’s table tennis team had never lost in the Commonwealth Games since the sport was inducted in the program in 2002. Batra crushed world number 4 Feng Tianwei and another higher ranked player Zhou Yihan in India’s 3–1 win in the final.
Batra became 1st Indian woman to clinch a commonwealth table tennis individual gold medal in Commonwealth Games 2018 by beating Feng Tianwei in the semifinal and Yu Mengyu of Singapore in the final. She also claimed a silver in Women’s Doubles and a bronze in Mixed Doubles.
Later in the same year, Batra bagged a mixed doubles bronze with Achanta Sharath Kamal at the Jakarta Asian Games. Batra was conferred Arjuna award by the government of India and also became the first Indian to receive “The Breakthrough Star Award” by ITTF. She broke into the top 50 of the World rankings in 2019, becoming the first Indian woman to do so.
Manika is expected to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics, which have been postponed to the summer of the next year.