New Delhi: Indian ace Achanta Sharath Kamal failed to seal the fifth Olympic qualifying spot at the Asian qualification table tennis tournament in Hong Kong on Saturday, but he still has a chance to get a London Games berth.
Sharath Kamal lost 2-4 (12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11) to Kim Song Nam of North Korea at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. By losing the match to the North Korean, whom he had beaten earlier in group stages, the Indian made his job at the qualifiers much tougher as he will have to play two more matches and win them to fancy any chance of joining the Indian contingent to London.
Of the seven berths available at the qualifiers, six have already been grabbed and the lone seventh spot remains on offer.
Sharath will have to bring in all his experience - first to beat the Chinese Taipei player Wu Chi-Chi and then defeat the winner of the match between Jang Song Man of North Korea and Indian Soumyajit Ghosh. If he does that, he will be the first Indian to make the Olympics grade for the third successive time. The Indian had represented the country at both the Athens and Beijing Games earlier.
Sharath, who was playing the fourth match of the day, had a mixed luck on Saturday. Before taking on Kim Song Nam, he played a tough match against world number one Ma Long and lost to the top Chinese in straight games of 9-11, 2-11, 4-11, 6-11. Earlier, he had played a gruelling 95-minute match to beat a top-rung North Korean Jang Song Man 4-3 (11-8, 13-11, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-7).