G Sathiyan, the highest-ranked Indian paddler in the world, feels the country is enjoying a golden era in table tennis and believes that things will only get better from here.
In the last 6-7 years, India has won the men’s team gold in the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games. In Birmingham last month, Achnata Sharath Kamal won the men’s singles gold at the Commonwealth Games while Sathiyan bagged the bronze medal. India bagged two bronze medals in the 2018 Asian Games while players like Sharath, Sathiyan and Manika Batra have bagged titles at the WTT Contender circuit.
“I think this is the Golden era of Indian table tennis. We’re winning medals in every category, men, women, junior, sub-junior and even cadet. It’s amazing. India is a big force in world table tennis now," he said during a press conference on the opening day of the 36th National Games here on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old, who along with Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra, began the medal charge on the international stage, sees great promise and potential in the next line of players.
“In the last seven years, table tennis has transformed into a whole new sport. It’s probably one of the most-improved sports across the board in the country," Sathiyan said.
Speaking about the National Games’ role in further improving table tennis, Sathiyan said, “The Games gave me a great platform in 2015, to know where I stood. When you compete in a multisport event, it’s a very different ball game. You learn a lot of things and they help us in bigger events like the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and the Olympics.
“For youngsters, it is a great platform to test their skills and test themselves under pressure," Sathiyan was quoted as saying by the organisers on Tuesday.
Incidentally, in the last edition of the Games in Kerala, Sathiyan was part of the Tamil Nadu men’s team which had bagged the gold medal. This year, Tamil Nadu didn’t qualify for the eight-team event and he agrees that the sport has missed out on a potentially great clash against hosts Gujarat.
The World No. 37 is, however, keen to give his best in the individual event before heading for the World Championships in Chengdu.
“It is not going to be easy here as I am playing singles directly. But I have two days to get used to the conditions. I will practise a little bit and play my best in the Games," he promised.
“I hope I can really have a good tournament, have some Gujarati dishes and enjoy here," he added.