by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF Africa Press Officer
He lines up alongside Sharath Kamal Achanta, Amalraj Anthony, Harmeet Desai and Manav Vikash Thakkar.
Throughout the current century the leading Indian name has been Sharath Kamal Achanta, now the country’s highest ranked is Sathiyan Gnanasekaran; on the present day rankings, Sharath Kamal Achanta is three places lower at no.33, a fact that reflects the strength of the Indian team in Gondomar.
It is a far cry from four years ago; at the time of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Sharath Kamal Achanta stood at no.73, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, totally out of the running at no.170!
Now with good reason Sathiyan Gnanasekaran looks ahead to an Olympic Games debut.
“I have never played the Olympic Games but in Portugal, I know we will be seeded no.5 in the tournament and if everyone in the team plays 100 per cent, we definitely have a great chance to make it to the Olympic Games.
It has been my childhood dream to play in Olympics and just seeing those five rings gives me goose bumps. It will be a huge accomplishment for my country, myself and my family. If I qualify, I would definitely dedicate this to my late father as it was also his dream.
We are all prepared. I am already training in Düsseldorf, the Indian team will arrive in Düsseldorf on Sunday 12th January and train here together until Monday 20th January when we will all be heading to Portugal. We are a great team and have a wonderful team bonding.
It is really an honour to be the highest ranked player in India but my aim is to set high benchmarks for upcoming players by reaching new heights. I would really love to break into top 15 this year and win an Olympic medal.
Table tennis has been a very integral part of my life right from childhood. It has given me happiness and a livelihood. The sport taught me how to always fight back in life when you are struggling and to never give up. It has given me identity and through which I am able to inspire millions of people.”