National Games: Paddler Mouma Das still packs a punch

SURAT: Mouma Das says that at the age of 38, she has no goals or objectives in mind other than to enjoy playing the sport she loves the most. Even though she just plays table tennis for fun, the five-time national champion can impart some match-winning wisdom to young people.

The 36th National Games' women's table tennis team final was won by West Bengal thanks to Mouma, who saved two match points before overcoming Maharashtra's 19-year-old Diya Chitale in five sets. In the third singles match of the title match, while both teams were level at 1-1, the victory was crucial.

"Since I'm enjoying playing again, I don't feel any pressure to perform. She was under pressure because it was assumed that she would win, so I just concentrated on keeping the ball on the table "said Mouma, who is now competing in her third event since making a comeback from maternity leave. She said, "I'm beginning over with nothing to lose. It's a blank slate for me."

In fact, she surprised everyone by making it to the final of the very first competition, the Senior Nationals in Meghalaya earlier this year, despite not having put in adequate preparation time.

"Because it is really tough to play continually, I only played one morning or evening session prior to the Nationals. Compared to my younger teammates, I have to put in more preparation and effort because I'm not as physically fit as I once was "The paddler, who was a member of the Indian women's team that won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and had also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2017 world championships in women's doubles with Manika Batra, explained.

Mouma played in two five-set matches on Wednesday at the PDDU Indoor Stadium despite having questionable fitness levels. In the final, she was more aggressive than her younger rivals.

The most experienced Indian athlete competing in either individual or team events at the world championships says, "I know how some of these guys play and their styles as I have faced them before and I utilise that information against them."
Mouma asserts that making a successful comeback after a three-year break was made possible by her passion for the sport, her husband Kanchan Chakraborty, and her family's unwavering support.

She highlighted, avoiding to disclose her husband's name during the conversation, citing tradition, and instead wrote it down, "He is one of the reasons I was able to make such a tremendous recovery."

She remarked, "Fortunately, I live in a joint family, so my mother, mother-in-law, and everyone else helps with taking care of the kid, and especially my husband is always pushing me to play.

In the individual competitions, Mouma will compete in the women's singles and mixed doubles divisions. Despite her desire to downplay her prospects of earning a medal, her rivals will undoubtedly be wary of her skill when they sit across from her at the table.

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