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A legend’s love story

By Azhikkakath Joseph Antony

A Mumbai-based author working on a book profiling champions in various sports commissioned a Chennai ad agency to interview nine-time National table tennis champion Achanta Sharath Kamal.

Sripoorni, an executive, was assigned the job. Soon their formal conversations led to an informal friendship. Sharath’s mother then wondered why her son’s ‘training sessions’ were getting delayed.

With the siblings thick as thieves, his brother Rajat knew the goings-on but kept it under wraps. The love-birds dated for two years till one day she dropped the ‘alliance’ bomb. Her parents were on the lookout for a groom.

Chennai’s most eligible bachelor duly descended on her place to seek her hand. Completely in the dark until then, her father raised every responsible parent’s query—what he did for a living. “Playing table tennis,” said Sharath.

Her dad withdrew to another room. Soon the sound of table tennis shots were heard. He had run a quick check on Youtube and returned. Respect for his would-be son-in-law as a self-made man became evident.

So did the horoscopes match ? “By then they had become immaterial,” grinned the champ. On March 22, the relationship became official with an engagement and on July 27, they became man and wife.

The missus would join Sharath in Dusseldorf, Germany when he was not training and return to Chennai when he had to travel to tournaments, mostly across Europe. “Her decisions gave a big boost to my career,” he acknowledged. Regardless of wherever in the world he was, he’d arrive well ahead of the birth of his daughter and then his son.

The couple then struck a deal—he’d hang up his boots after the 2016 Rio Olympics. His career on the ascendant with no signs of his quitting, her gripe is typical. “TT’s your first wife, the coach your second and I’m only third ! ”

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