Lessons learned in Tokyo, G Sathiyan aims for the Paris 2024 Olympics

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From fitness to power, table tennis star G Sathiyan is sweating on many fronts to be a better version of himself.

G Sathiyan is currently training under his coach at Raman TT High Performance Center. Image: Twitter/@sathiyantt

Tokyo 2020 was supposed to be Gnanasekaran Sathiyan’s first Olympics, but there was a different kind of buzz surrounding his upcoming campaign, and for good reason. The 2019 Chennai paddler had become the first Indian to break into the top 25 of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings.

Sathiyan was world No. 170 at the time of the Rio Olympics in 2016, but in Tokyo he entered the competition as the 26th seed and with a world ranking of 38. Rapid progress has been made in recent years and now he was at the greatest of stages. The sport, however, has this uncanny ability to be a great leveller. Sometimes no matter how good you are, you have to be good that day.

In his first match at the Games, in the second round, Sathiyan took a 3-1 lead over world number 95 Siu Hang Lam, only for the Hong Kong paddler to turn the tables on the Indian with a 4 win -3. As overwhelming as he is, Sathiyan isn’t one to brood for long.

He has since won an ITTF Men’s Singles title, a World Tour Mixed Doubles title and a World Tour Men’s Doubles title. At the 2021 Asian Championships, he won bronze in men’s doubles with the legendary Sharath Kamal and was also part of the men’s team that won bronze.

The victories are back and the star paddler now has his eyes on the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“The biggest goal is definitely Paris 2024,” Sathiyan said. First post. “Immediately after Tokyo 2020 we set our target at Paris 2024. Tokyo 2020 taught me a lot and I put those lessons directly into my game and you can see there has been a lot of improvement, especially mentally. how I approach a big Now I know what it’s like to play in the Olympics and I’m sure the exposure will help me when I go to Paris.”

The 29-year-old has also signed up with top French Pro A league club Jura Morez Table Tennis for the 2022-23 season to acclimate to the conditions and hopes his stay in France will give him the “much needed”. practice ahead of the 2024 Games. In the latest ITTF World Rankings, Sathiyan and her mixed doubles partner Manika Batra reached their career-best sixth place in the world and the Chennai athlete said mixed doubles was going to be their main objective in the future.

“We’ll be focusing a lot on mixed doubles and there’s a good chance of getting that elusive mixed doubles medal. When you’re world number six, how you play that day depends on how you play It is also important to work strategies on the respective pairs and we trained together to do that,” says Sathiyan.

But ahead of the Olympics, there are other major tournaments that will serve as a barometer for the progress of Sathiyan and Indian players besides providing them with the perfect ground to hone their skills. While the Asian Games due to be held in China this year have been postponed to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, special attention will be given to the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in England from July 28. India, in its best show at the Games, won a total of eight medals at the 2018 CWG, including three gold. Sathiyan won men’s doubles silver, mixed doubles bronze and men’s team gold. Sathiyan is “confident” India can repeat their exploits, but his biggest goal is to win a singles medal.

“Winning a singles medal at the Commonwealth Games has been a long-time goal for me,” the Chennai man said. “The last time I lost in the quarter-finals. I don’t just want a medal but to go straight to the final. It won’t be easy. There are some tough players there – Aruna Quadri and Liam Pitchford, those who are in the top 20 in the world. There will be tough competition but we are preparing hard and we have worked out our strategies.”

Sathiyan is currently Sweat it took place at the Raman TT High Performance Center in Chennai under the guidance of his coach S Raman to prepare for the challenges ahead. Quick on his feet, Sathiyan is focused on building more power into his game, which hasn’t been his forte.

“On the game side, we work more on receiving serve and returns. That’s where I really need to strengthen myself to face the best players. I play a lot of rallies, so we work on my first shots and my power. ” I want to give to punches, to have more power in the game. The focus is also on fitness because we have time to push harder to improve the strength quotient before the CWG,” he says. .

Sathiyan also spends time with former Indian cricket team strength and conditioning coach Ramji Srinivasan to improve his strength and fitness. Another new dimension to his roster is the addition of Swedish sparring partner Simon Alexander Berglund who is currently in Chennai.

“I wanted a young left-hander who could push us and make practice more efficient. I haven’t been training much lately with left-handers but internationally we have a lot of left-handers. So he’s going to help that way, and it will also help in doubles. Most countries have left-right combinations,” says Sathiyan explaining the decision.

The paddler will train in Chennai until the end of May before joining the national camp. He is expected to play in a WTT Contender event in Zagreb and a Grand Smash event in Budapest in the coming months before the CWG. It will only be the beginning of a busy schedule for Sathiyan who hopes to play as much as possible before Paris 2024. Let’s go!

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