As all good things come to an end, so does the incredible journey of Manav Thakkar in the Junior levels of World Table Tennis - as he clinched Gold at the 2018 Portugal Junior and Cadet Open.
The mercurial athlete has had quite a journey, transforming from a diminutive paddler struggling to see over the table in Surat, to becoming the World No. 1 in the ITTF U-18 ranking in February 2018. Along the way, Manav has won Gold at the 2016 India Open, in the South Asian Cadet Open, and the latest, a Gold at the Cadet Open in Guimarães to cap it off.
Known for his attacking style of play, Manav wears his heart on his sleeve, his passion and intensity for the game clearly showing in every well-crafted return and in every instinctive winner. For that very reason, Manav was picked as Empowerji Challengers’ first choice Indian paddler for season 2 of the CEAT UTT. No wonder he idolises Jan-Ove Waldner; the Swedish legend is a monumental icon to look up to, and Manav has already made his ambition clear with his achievements. Manav really shone in the second season of the CEAT UTT, beating the likes of Kristian Karlsson and Kou Lei, much higher-ranked and highly decorated athletes. His performances earned him a call-up to the Indian contingent that went on to win a Bronze medal in the team event at the Asian games.
Manav ends 2018 on a high, a bittersweet emotion that he will savour only for a short while, as he gets ready to make a jump to the senior levels. But meanwhile, we take this opportunity to celebrate one of UTT’s brightest young talents, and wish him all the best for the future.