by Simon Daish
Sanil Shetty has been competing at the top of Indian table tennis for a number of years: he became Indian national champion in 2014 and has a Commonwealth Championships bronze medal to his name, following an impressive outing at the 2015 competition in Surat.
However, life hasn’t always been so simple for Sanil Shetty who, at the age of seven, was diagnosed with a heart condition.
“It has been a roller coaster ride. I couldn’t take part in any sporting activity due to my condition. There was a domestic helper who used to pick me up from school because I could barely walk and had breathing problems”, Sanil Shetty.
The health situation proved problematic for Sanil, but he was inspired to take up table tennis after seeing his brother Sachin receive a trophy.
Sanil worked hard at improving his cardiovascular fitness and, rather amazingly, overcame his condition just a few years later.
“My brother has been my mentor throughout. When I started he was also playing. When I saw him win a big trophy I decided to play table tennis. When I was seven I started working on my endurance and stamina building, along with my ayurvedic and homeopathic treatments. Then I started playing table tennis. Now I can run for an hour and play for three. My condition is completely cured now. I struggled with the condition until the age of 11 before it finally started having minimal impact on my body”, Sanil Shetty.
Guiding Sanil from a young age was the very same player who inspired him to get involved in the sport: older brother Sachin.
Putting family first, Sachin was aware of his brother’s talent and felt that responsibility fell on his shoulders to give Sanil the best possible chance of success.
“I started coaching at the age of 21 because Sanil started playing the sport. Ten years ago the financial situation was not very good and table tennis was an expensive sport. So I wanted to support my brother because I am the elder one and also age was on his side. I knew he could achieve great things in the sport. So coaching began for me back then”, Sachin Shetty.
Years have since passed but the wonderful story of the Shetty brothers was revisited recently as Sanil and Sachin met in the inaugural season of India’s Ultimate Table Tennis League.
Sanil’s team Falcons TT emerged victorious over RP-SG Mavericks – the team which is coached by Sachin – and for the younger sibling there was an air of delight.
“I had faced my brother in the Mumbai Table Tennis league where he is the coach for Phantom Stars and I play for Cool Smashers. For two years his team has been beating me. However, this time I beat his team in the UTT”, Sanil Shetty.
For the coach of the Mavericks team there were certainly mixed emotions but, while he was disappointed to see his side lose the match, Sachin couldn’t hide his joy at seeing his brother continue to impress.
“No regrets whatsoever. I am so happy for him. He is doing very well. It is a big confidence boost for him. He is beating the top players in the world. Personally I am happy for him but professionally I am very upset”, Sachin Shetty.
— Ultimate TableTennis (@UltTableTennis) July 13, 2017
Source: The Field