03 Jul 2020

Staged in Bahrain, at the 2011 World Junior Championships, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was a vital member of the Indian outfit that secured boys’ team bronze.

Seven years later at the 2018 Asian Games he was pivotal to the same colour medal being achieved in the men’s team competition; his country’s first ever podium finish in the table tennis events at the prestigious multi-sport spectacular first held in 1958.

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer

Unquestionably, the 27 year old engineering graduate  from the Chennai based St. Joseph’s College has very much fulfilled the potential displayed in teenage days.

A former student of Kolaperumal Chetty Vaishnav Senior Secondary School in Arumbakkam Chennai; in his native India, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran has become a household name; his rising profile has inspired many of his compatriots to aim high in life.

Since claiming his first ITTF World Tour men’s singles title when he emerged successful at the 2016 Belgium Open, Gnanasekaran has continued to break boundaries with a series of spectacular performances. Notably partnering Sharath Kamal Achanta, a powerful doubles combination has been established.

Furthermore, prior to receiving the Times of India Sports Award for table tennis,  Gnanasekaran has also received the Arjuna Award, presented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, recognising outstanding achievement in sports.

A formidable doubles partnership has been forged with (left) Sharath Kamal Achanta (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)


Completely different

Now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe, Gnanasekaran admitted that life has not been easy under the lockdown.

“It has been a completely different life after the lockdown, a never before kind of experience to be locked inside the house being a sportsperson. I have literally lived life in a  suitcase. I have also understood how important is health; more than any other thing in the world.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

Notably, he has discovered an interest in Yoga, whilst also being brought very much down to earth.

“I have ventured into doing Yoga, also I’m doing some gardening and also realised how difficult it is to do household chores along with my mum.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

Most certainly, it is very different to the norm; a period when not travelling from one tournament to another.

“Yes, I miss travelling and playing competitions, the adrenaline flow and butterflies during matches are certainly something I really miss a lot. I think now it will be completely different with social distancing the most important. It’s going to be the new normal life in table tennis. Table tennis has literally given me everything and I have made a livelihood out of it. It has become a part of my life that I just can’t sleep without hearing the sound of the ball. Also, I have learnt how to tackle wins and losses; how a process-oriented approach will help you achieve success.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

In 2019, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran made his Men’s World Cup debut (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Not yet listed among the competitors for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Gnanasekaran is still hopeful of qualifying.

“It is a good decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics; health is priority. I take it in a positive way as it is one year gained for me, I will be a better player next year in my goal to qualify for Tokyo and put up an improved performance at the Olympics.  I have set myself a huge target, it would be great if I could go on to win an Olympic medal or make it to the last eight. It has been my childhood dream to play at the biggest sporting event, Olympics. The name itself is so special that it gives you a lot of energy and all top players really give their heart out in this event. I have never played it. I want to experience the feeling of playing for your country at the Olympics.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

Postponement of the major event on planet earth, for all it means a change of plan but no change of determination.

“It has been hard as I have not been able to practise regularly during the lockdown; it will definitely take time to get back to shape when things become normal. I have not thought about marriage; now  Olympics is my primary focus now I will think about marriage maybe after the Olympics.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran


Meanwhile, for young players trying follow in his footsteps, the now firmly established international has motivating words.

“Just be patient, never give up and keep working hard consistently. Focus on the process and results will follow.” Sathiyan Gnanasekaran


General News Features Sathiyan Gnanasekaran