Composed, calm, focused, determined – add as many adjectives as you want to describe this man. This paddler recently became the first Indian to enter Top 25 of the Table Tennis Rankings and is the country’s No.1 Table Tennis player. Yes, you guessed it right! This is none other than Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.
Within every winner, there exists a beginner who once faced hurdles and hardships. However, with sheer grit, persistence and promise, one can easily conquer those tough times. The story of G Sathiyan holds true to this quintessence. It’s an inspirational tale of how he overcame the hurdles that were pulling him back with determination and valour.
Date of Birth
January 8, 1993
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
24 (as of 1st May, 2019)
Teams Played for
India, Tamil Nadu, Dabang Smashers TTC (Ultimate tennis league-India), Angby club (Sweden), TSGKaiserslautern (Germany) and Zooleszcz Gwiazda Bydgoszcz (Poland).
G Sathiyan Biography
Born into a middle-class family in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, the G Sathiyan took a liking to the sport of Table Tennis at a very young age. He was captivated by speed and spin, two essential gears, which came naturally to him. Rising slowly and steadily through junior ranks, he wanted to make a career in the sport. However, his parents wanted him to pursue a safer route of engineering. And humbly obliging to his parents wishes, Sathiyan went on to graduate from the St Joseph College of Engineering, Chennai with a degree in Information Technology.
Also Read | Top 10 Famous Table Tennis Players in India
Choosing Table Tennis
It was just an accident. His father Gnanasekaran was working out of the country. TT coaching center had started close to their house at that time. His mother Malarkodi took him along as at the age of five. At that time his first coach V Chandrashekar and Ashok Kumar convinced Sathiyan’s mother to put him in the sport when he was not even the height of the table.
Balancing Career and Passion
Balancing studies and the game was tough for him. As a result, it started affecting his game and while transitioning from junior to senior level, his career hit a hill. In 2012, his performance fell and negative thoughts sneaked in. However, later that year, three moments of absolute serendipity gave a boost to his career.
- Receiving a scholarship from the state government. This allowed Sathiyan to focus completely on playing TT.
- Securing a job in public sector company like ONGC, who were encouraging towards Sathiyan’s pursuits in Table Tennis. The job satisfied his family at the same time allowing him to fully pursue his passion.
- Meeting former Indian paddler and TT coach Subramaniam Raman. This gave him the right direction and
If not for these three, Sathiyan would, most probably, have been a Techie or doing MS abroad and India would have been robbed of one of its most gifted paddlers ever.
S Raman: The Guru of Sathiyan
The ‘engineer’ of Sathiyan’s incredible feat is his coach S Raman, a former Olympian and National Champion from India. Sathiyan once said, “Raman and I are a great combo because we both love being challenged every day and we work together wonderfully to overcome those challenges. It’s been four years that I have been training under him and he has completely transformed my game!” Adding a strong attack from both flanks to his already existing daunting defense, Sathiyan has arisen as a versatile player.
He further revealed how Raman gives him ‘pointers’ before every match. Raman also takes off the pressure of performance from G Sathiyan ’s mind. “He tells me not to worry about the result and that he will take the responsibility if I lose. I just need to focus on the task at hand and not bother being answerable to people back home”
- In September 2016 Sathiyan went on to win the Belgium Open table tennis title.
- He became the second Indian table tennis player to win an ITTF event.
- He won bronze in ITTF Challenge – Thailand, ITTF Challenge – Belgium, ITTF Major – Swedish in 2017
- Sathiyan bagged Silver in ITTF Major- Bulgaria in doubles men category in 2017.
Continuing the winning streak in 2017, he won gold in the ITTF Challenge – Spanish Open, in Almeria in the men’s singles category.
- Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was a part of the Indian contingent in Asian Games 2018 which made history by winning a silver medal.
- Gnanasekaran has been felicitated with the TOISA Table Tennis player of the year award 2018 (Jury choice).
- He has also been awarded Arjuna Award in 2018.
Ultimate Table Tennis League
Following the trend of launching profitable sporting tournaments, table tennis too taken the plunge and set up Ultimate Table Tennis in 2017. Sathiyan was auctioned by Dabbang Smashers and proved one of the finest performers in the season. In 2018’s season Sathiyan was retained by the franchise and was appointed as a captain to lead Dabbang Smashers along with paddlers like Manika Batra, Yoshida Masaki, Sakuna Mori, Archana Kamath, and Sanish Ambekar.
Lesser known facts
- He scored 90 percent in his 12th class.
- Sathiyan is not only one of the best table tennis players in the country but is also a software engineer.
- Sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures has signed a three-year representation contract with the paddler to look after all his commercial interest.
- GoSports Foundation, through the Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Programme, is currently supporting him.
- Bananas replaced chocolates, ice cream became a luxury and sweets exited from his diet completely after becoming a professional paddler.
Sathiyan’s rise through the ranks has been a rapid one; the paddler has immensely worked his way from being outside top 100 in the ITTF rankings to become the first Indian to make it to top 25 in the rankings.
From being an unknown name in the table tennis to a crucial member of the Indian squad to an Arjuna awardee to the highest ranked Indian player in the world, Sathiyan has raced fast, changing insights en route. The left-hander champ has a good chance of improving his position in the ranking system.
In the upcoming months he will be seen in action in seven Pro Tours, Ultimate Table Tennis League and the Commonwealth Championships before the World Cup, which will be held in Chengdu, China from October 18 to 20. The paddler is an inspiration for many sports fanatics in the country who want to excel in sports but also are not willing to give up on studies! To sum up, this man is a combination of strategic hard work and mental tenacity.