G Sathiyan interview: ‘Not travelling to Tokyo as an also-ran, Olympic medal an actual chance’

G Sathiyan interview: ‘Not travelling to Tokyo as an also-ran, Olympic medal an actual chance’

On this interview, India’s table-tennis exponent G Sathiyan opens up about his coaching and preparations, his Olympics desires, life in a bio-bubble, and a bit extra.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran is on a excessive. Having secured his maiden Olympics berth, the 27-year-old is having fun with an unbeaten run on the Polish Superliga, the place he has helped Sokolow Jaroslaw attain the semi-finals. In his ultimate lap of preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, the younger paddler is assured of continuous his good run within the Japanese capital three months from now and making a mark on the much-anticipated occasion.

On this interview with Alenz, Sathiyan opens up about his coaching and preparations, his Olympics desires, life in a bio-bubble, and a bit extra.

Excerpts:

Inform us about your expertise at Polish Superliga. What’s the extent of competitors there?

I’ve performed Polish Superliga as soon as in 2017. Then, I performed simply 2-3 matches, however now I’m enjoying much more. It is among the greatest leagues in Europe after Germany and France. They’ve gamers from China, Japan, and Korea other than some main European gamers corresponding to Jakub Dyjas, who’s the highest Polish participant, Andrej Gacina, who has already made the lower for Tokyo, and some extra high-quality gamers.

Out of the 13 groups within the competitors, six-seven are actually good and provide excellent competitors. I’ve performed some high-quality matches and am at the moment on a seven-match unbeaten streak. I hope to proceed it once I play the semis on 7 April. The semis will likely be a troublesome affair towards Dekorglass Dzialdowo, however I hope to do nicely. I’m coaching onerous and dealing to enhance my sport as a result of these are the previous couple of matches that I’ve earlier than the Olympics. I’ll attempt to keep aggressive and try to play the best way I performed on the WTT qualifiers to maintain the momentum going for myself and the membership.

G Sathiyan interview Not travelling to Tokyo as an alsoran Olympic medal a real possibility

UTT has put India on the worldwide table-tennis map, feels G Sathiyan. Picture: UTT

You may have had a busy few months. Beginning final 12 months, you have got been to Poland, Japan, Doha, and now again in Poland. What are among the greatest takeaways out of your latest worldwide publicity?

You’re proper, I’ve been one of many busiest TT gamers through the pandemic. I think about myself very fortunate to have the ability to get some competitions in these occasions. These occasions have helped me keep within the groove. I obtained to play loads of matches which have helped me keep within the match mode and convey out my greatest, particularly on the Olympic qualifiers the place I performed some good matches.

I additionally performed a league in Japan, and that was an incredible expertise. It was an ideal build-up for the Olympics as a result of it was the hardest league I’ve performed to date. My greatest takeaway has been that I obtained some high-quality matches underneath my belt. In a pandemic 12 months with no worldwide occasions taking place, there have been some doubts relating to my preparations and sport. However, it was good to win some powerful matches, so I’m excessive on confidence.

You may have been enjoying relentlessly since October 2020. Any dangers of fatigue or burnout so near the Olympics?

Nicely, I had a slight niggle within the shoulder through the Nationals nevertheless it was only a small pressure and I’m high quality now. I’m enjoying rather well and I’ll do extra health work within the months main as much as the Olympics. I received’t say I’m underneath any bodily pressure as a result of I’ve performed far more previously, so my physique is certainly used to it.

The problem is extra psychological. It has been very onerous to be in a bubble. It is very important be in match mode. There could be a little bit of psychological fatigue too to show up and play amid all of the quarantine protocols and stop-start nature of occasions. The variety of follow hours overseas are restricted attributable to COVID protocols, you possibly can’t enterprise out an excessive amount of both…so sure, it’s powerful however you need to get used to it and march on and are available out sturdy.

You spoke concerning the psychological challenges of dwelling in a bio-secure bubble. How precisely is life inside a bubble and what makes it so excruciating?

The bio-bubble life is extraordinarily troublesome. It is rather new for an athlete. We don’t have a chance to exit for a espresso, or a stroll or simply look across the metropolis. We lead high-pressure lives and we want an outlet to vent out, and that’s exactly what’s been restricted rather a lot.

In Doha, we have been confined to 1 flooring. Our routine can be easy – come out of the room, take the steps, get on the bus to the stadium, come again in the identical bus, take the steps again to the room. We have been restricted to 1 flooring. However the good factor was that we may meet one another. We’d get collectively and play Ludo or dumb charades. We’d chat, or have espresso. It was a 90-day bubble in Doha, which was actually powerful.

The hardest bubble life I had was in Japan as a result of I used to be on their own there. I had nobody to speak to. I’m a film buff, so I watched loads of films. I did loads of video calls to the household, learn some books, and analysed my matches on video. I additionally discovered time to review my opponents.

Psychological well being is a really important a part of an athlete’s well-being, however I’ve conditioned myself to place TT above every thing else. To have the ability to play in occasions like these is a privilege in itself. Undoubtedly, there’s loneliness, however expertise has helped me in an enormous manner. I’ve only one final bubble to take care of earlier than heading into the Olympics.

Do you assume you might be peaking on the proper time for Tokyo?

Sure, I’d wish to imagine so. I’ve an awesome workforce and I’ve full confidence in my coach Raman sir and my coach Ramji Srinivasan who has already chalked out a plan for me in order that I can peak bodily on the proper time. I’ve a psychological conditioning coach who retains me in the correct area and makes positive my psychological energies are spent in the correct route. My dietician Ryan Fernando ensures I eat proper, which is essential for a travelling athlete. So sure, my workforce is doing an awesome job and I really feel my planning is superb heading into the Olympics.

As for my sport, like I mentioned, I feel I get good sport time towards some high quality opponents right here in Polish Superliga.

G Sathiyan interview Not travelling to Tokyo as an alsoran Olympic medal a real possibility

‘I feel I get good sport time towards some high quality opponents in Polish Superliga.’ Picture: UTT

What do your first Olympics imply to you?

Qualifying for the Olympics is a really particular feeling and a dream come true second for me. I nonetheless keep in mind watching my first Olympics, the 2004 Athens Olympics on TV. These 5 Olympic rings nonetheless give me goosebumps. I began enjoying TT critically in 2001, and 20 years later, right here I’m, all set for my maiden Olympics. It’s been an awesome journey, stuffed with wrestle however everybody supported me, proper from my mother and father and pals to the federation and coaches. All of them actually stood by my thick and skinny, and I can’t thank them sufficient.

I’m undoubtedly excited to be a part of the Olympics, however it’s time to put the joy apart and practice even onerous. The actual pleasure will likely be solely after I win an Olympics medal. Taking part in the Olympics was a dream, however I all the time knew that I’ve it in me to qualify since I used to be persistently beating good gamers. I don’t wish to journey to Tokyo as an also-ran.

We have now received medals on the Commonwealth Video games and importantly on the Asian Video games which is sort of a mini Olympics, so that provides me loads of perception. I do know will probably be very powerful within the singles, however for those who attain Spherical of 16 and get a great draw and have a great day, you possibly can attain the medal rounds. So sure, I’ll be undoubtedly on the lookout for a medal. I’m engaged on my serve and obtain and my aggressive sport. I will likely be pushing rather a lot bodily too to be in my greatest form for the Video games.

How did you and the workforce rejoice the Olympics qualification?

Aah, there have been some loopy celebrations. A number of cake-cutting, loads of sugar…particularly on the academy with Raman sir and workforce. At residence, my sister had deliberate a shock for me, my mother was ready until 3 AM for me to come back residence. Officers from Tamil Nadu authorities got here to obtain me on the Chennai airport at 2 AM which was very good of them. The media was so supportive. It was an awesome, nice feeling. From a world rating of 412 in 2012 to come back this far has been an awesome journey. However, it doesn’t cease right here. The challenges will likely be more durable now, however I’m decided to work onerous and convey glory to the nation.

India are sending their greatest ever desk tennis contingent to Tokyo Olympics, which implies the gamers are undoubtedly getting higher. How do you see your, in addition to sport’s progress lately?

India are undoubtedly one of many superpowers in TT now. We have now 4 singles and a mixed-doubles participant on the Olympics this 12 months, which is our greatest TT contingent on the Video games ever. Final Olympics, we had simply 4 gamers (all singles), now we’ve 4 plus a blended workforce. Subsequent Olympics, most likely we’ll have yet another doubles workforce. So yeah, total India has developed as a sporting nation, and in TT, we’re checked out with loads of respect from nations like China and Germany.

I wish to thank Final Desk Tennis rather a lot for this transformation. After I performed my first season in 2017, I used to be 120 on the planet, however I ended up beating loads of high gamers, together with then World No 20 Stefan Fegerl. I used to be unbeaten within the first season in 2017, and that gave me loads of confidence. I assumed if I can beat these high gamers right here, why not in world excursions? That confidence confirmed in my efficiency at world tour occasions and I persistently began beating loads of high quality gamers.

UTT gave me an awesome platform to be taught from the highest gamers, apart from making India a TT vacation spot. I gained loads of data enjoying with and towards these high international gamers. I defeated then World No 16 Marcos Freitas on the Austrian Open in 2018, and the very subsequent 12 months, I obtained the higher of World No 14 Wong Chu Ting on the Asian Cup in 2019. It was a incredible journey from there and I now not worry enjoying the higher-ranked gamers. The league is carried out in a really skilled method and loads of international gamers now wish to come to Indian and take part in it. Aside from me, it has produced abilities like Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath who will take Indian TT ahead. UTT and Desk Tennis Federation of India can absolutely take credit score for placing Indian TT in the correct route.

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