India’s table tennis player G Sathiyan calls 14-day quarantine mentally challenging
PANCHKULA: Ace Indian paddler G Sathiyan is one of the few Indian athletes to have played international competitions in the past five months – Poland table tennis league for two weeks in October last year and T-League for the Okayama Rivets in Tokyo for a month. And his experience has been diverse, to say the least, in these Covid times.
“The frequent 14-days quarantine is not going to help athletes. It is going to be very difficult for anyone to get back to their original shape after being isolated for two weeks in a room,” said Sathiyan while Speaking to TOI on the sidelines of the national table tennis championship
“When I was in Tokyo, the size of my room was that of a table tennis court. I was allowed to step out of my room for only two hours a day. I was given a small room with a table in it and a sparring partner. Mentally, it was the most challenging thing I have faced in my life. They were maintaining strict Covid protocols, and they are the need of the hour,” he said, adding the hospitality was very good. And yes, Japanese cuisine was fantastic,” said Sathiyan with a big smile on his face.
Apart from the quarantine period, the Tokyo stint has pepped up the 28-year-old to come back stronger later this year.
“I was waiting for Japan for so long. I just wanted to get the feel of the Olympics. Going to Tokyo was very helpful for me. The league was of a very high standard. All the players were ranked higher than me; most of them were top-20 players. Even without the crowd, the matches were so intense. I have played four matches, won one and lost three. The victory was against a top-ranked player. I would have done better if I had more time to prepare,” said Sathiyan, who is ranked 37th in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings.
“It was a welcome experience to play against some of the world’s best; the high-quality competition was perfect for some pre-Olympic preparation,” he said.
However, uncertainty prevails over the Olympics, but the Chennai-based paddler is hopeful that Tokyo will host it no matter what.
“In my opinion, despite all the rumours, they are ready. You see the billboards there, and the city is decked up with posters of all the top Japanese athletes. It has motivated me a lot,” said Sathiyan
The paddler made an interesting remark on the brand of tables used in table tennis across the world.
“No one is aware of it, but the tables we play vary from one country to another. There is more friction on the surface in India because of heat, which means that the ball flies off the table and spins a lot. The footwork skills don’t exist here. Whereas in Europe, the tables are generally slower, and it does not have much spin, and that’s why you will see more rallies in the match,” he said.
“Tell a Nadal (Rafael) or Federer (Roger) to play on a clay court today, and next day they will have to play on the grass. Imagine how difficult it is going to be for them. This is what we face in table tennis when we play in Europe and then come back to play in India. The mental shift is very important because the same ball in India will behave differently in Europe,” he asserted.
On the Japanese table, he said: “They are somewhere in between. Not as fast as those in India but not as slow as European ones.”
Sathiyan has won two ITTF Pro-Tour titles but is yet to win the national title. He has lost thrice in the finals in his six appearances and the same number of times in the last four stages.
“It is the first time when I got three weeks of training at home for the national championship. I have prepared well, and hopefully, I will be lucky this time around,” he signed off.