Table tennis | Will Sathiyan break the jinx?

Harmeet confident of keeping his crown

G. Sathiyan has beaten the competition to become the only Indian to break into the top-25 of the world rankings, but when it comes to winning the National title, he still has work to do.

Having figured in three finals and three semifinals in his last six appearances, Sathiyan is looking to break the jinx in the next four days of the National table tennis championship that began on Saturday.

“This is the first time when I got three weeks to train at home for the National championship and I hope all the hard work pays off this time,” was how Sathiyan spoke about his preparations at Panchkula on Saturday.

While most players stayed back in India during the pandemic since last March, Sathiyan played league matches in Poland for two weeks, a month in Japan and returned to Poland for a week.

Japanese cuisine

“I must point out, in Japan, two weeks were spent in quarantine and I gained a couple of kilograms while enjoying Japanese cuisine during my time in the hotel,” said Sathiyan with a laugh and continued, “The only downside of travelling for competitions was undergoing mandatory quarantine.”

Unlike Sathiyan, his ONGC teammate and defending champion Harmeet Desai has far less weighing on his mind. The reigning Commonwealth champion, also a 2019 Arjuna Awardee, is currently playing some of his best table tennis. Interestingly, both Sathiyan and Harmeet played their last competitive match on January 26 this year.

“Once the action resumed in Europe, for about two months, I played competitively in France and trained in Denmark. Thereafter, I had a three-week stint in Germany and another 10 days in Belgium,” said Harmeet, who feels fitter as compared to his pre-COVID days.

The last word came from Sathiyan, “you have to beat at least three strong players to win the Nationals. In the past, I could manage to beat only two. This time, I intend to do better.”

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