Lessons I Learnt From My Mother: ‘Golden Girl’ Manika Batra

On Mother’s Day, the table tennis champion, who made the country proud by winning gold at the Commonwealth Games this year, says her mother taught her to be courageous and hard-working

By Team ParentCircle

Lessons I Learnt From My Mother: ‘Golden Girl’ Manika Batra
Pic credit: Manika Batra's Facebook page 

At an age when most kids are content playing with their toys, Manika Batra had already started enjoying a game of table tennis (TT). The sporting sensation started holding a paddle when she was just four and has never looked back since. She won four medals at the Commonwealth Games 2018, including two gold medals, and her tricoloured nails made as much headlines as her amazing performance. This Mother’s Day, Manika credits all her successes to her mother, Sushma Batra.

In an exclusive interview with ParentCircle, the 22-year-old TT champion says that her mother is truly inspiring, because of the sacrifices she made so that her daughter could fulfil her sporting dreams. Excerpts from the interview:

Q. You started playing table tennis when you were just four years old. What was the motivation behind this?

A. When you are four, there is no real motivation, but it was very interesting, and I enjoyed the sport. As I started playing TT in school, it became my passion. Everyone supported me. I also grew up seeing my elder brother and sister play table tennis and got motivation from them.

Q. How was your experience of representing India and winning at the Commonwealth Games 2018?

A. It was a feeling of immense pride and joy to represent my nation at such a great sporting stage. It was a dream come true that I not only played for India but also won a medal and created history at the games.

Q. In the Commonwealth Games, which match was the most exciting and demanding one for you?

A. My singles semi-finals match, wherein I beat world ranked number 4, Feng Tianwei of Singapore. It was a very tough match for me but at the end I emerged victorious, as I had the whole of my team on the bench supporting me.

Q. During your school days how did you cope with the challenges of table tennis training as well as academics?

A. I agree that it was a challenge, but I am glad that I was able to strike a fine balance between sports and studies. My school, Hansraj Model School, Punjabi Bagh, was very supportive in that sense.

Q. The role of your parents in your sporting career.

A. My parents supported me a lot right from the start of my TT journey. In addition, I would also like to mention that my victory would not have been possible without the support of my coach (Sandeep Gupta), Table Tennis Federation of India, Indian Government (who provided the TOPS scheme) and my employer (Indian Oil Corporation Limited).

Q. How much of an inspiration is your mother in your life?

A. She has inspired me a lot, as she has been with me from the start. She used to travel with me for my matches and whenever I had to play a match she would be more energetic than me. I owe all my successes to her. She has supported me in all aspects whether it be physically, emotionally or financially.

Q. You dropped out of college to concentrate on table tennis and you also turned down modelling offers. Did your mother support you in your decisions?

A. From the time I was four and started playing, she has been with me. She supported my decision to drop out of college. Even when I was playing in school, she would be waiting for me outside the school for long; she made so many sacrifices, leaving the house and travelling with me. She takes care of my diet too. 

Obviously, every mom does that for her child, but I think my mom has done more than any other mom would do. That is the reason I’m here today. She is a very disciplined lady and values relationships. I have surely learnt these traits from her. I have also picked up the attribute of being courageous from her.

Q. What are the skills that one needs to excel in table tennis?

A. Table Tennis is all about speed, sharp mind and agility. With each day, you must improve your game, and nowadays with technology it’s easy to read your game.

Q. What is your take on the sports scenario in Indian schools?

A. It is definitely picking up now. Even parents are now open to the idea of their children following sports as a full-time career, and it is heartening to see that.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A. I just want to work hard to break into the top 20 in the world rankings and win Olympic medal for India. As of now, there is the Asian games in August, a few foreign tournaments and nationals. So, I will focus on one tournament at a time and I will train hard for that.

Lessons Manika learnt from her mother:

  1. Take pride in what you do
  2. Support your children in all their endeavours
  3. Be down to earth even if you are a celebrity
  4. Value your relationships
  5. Be disciplined and always value time

Hall of Fame

  • Started playing at the tender age of 4 and was already winning medals by the time she was 8 years.
  • Manika won a silver medal in the under-21 category at the Chile Open in 2011
  • Along with other team members, she bagged 3 gold medals at the South Asian Games in 2016.
  • Beat World No. 4 Feng Tianwei in the singles semi-final at the Commonwealth Games 2018
  • Made history at the Commonwealth Games 2018 by winning four medals, including two gold.  

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