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Sathiyan Gnanasekaran Opens Up on Being 1st Indian to Play Japanese T-League, Recalls 2016 Commonwealth Championship Gold

File photo of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. (Photo Credit: @sathiyantt)

File photo of Sathiyan Gnanasekaran. (Photo Credit: @sathiyantt)

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran revealed how he got the chance to play in the Japanese T-League and recalled the 2016 Table Tennis Commonwealth Championships gold medal.

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Indian table tennis star Sathiyan Gnanasekaran recently became the first Indian to play in the play for Japanese T-League after he signed for the Okayama Rivets.

Sathiyan in a recent chat show Homerun with AV with sports commentator Arun Venugopal on his YouTube channel Gethist Creative, said that the move made sense to him as it would give him more practice.

"I am the first Indian to play in the Japanese T-League. So, I have been playing in the German league, the Bundesliga, for two years, but [my coach] Raman sir was like… we were already thinking, especially when I got a sponsorship with Butterfly that Japan is the future," Sathiyan Gnanasekaran said.

"The reasoning was that I had to play a lot more in Asia and train a lot more there. When the Japanese T-League started, he felt I could go there and train and also play a lot of quality matches. What could be better than this? Then, we were looking at options on how to get into Japan for training," Sathiyan explained.

Sathiyan also revealed how he got the 'chance' to ply in the Japansese T-League.

"The doors opened when I beat 'THE' Harimoto Tomokazu , the Japanese prodigy. There were shockwaves across Japan, and after that I started to get lot of offers to from Japan to play in the League. That is when Raman sir said this is the next move," Sathiyan said.

"We moved into the German league when you had to get into the top 100 [rankings] and we got into the top 50. But, if you have to aim to be in the top 10, Japan is the next step to go into the next big league. You have to play with the top 10 players frequently, train alongside them, and have the atmosphere of being tested at the highest level. So when you do that, you will also get closer to your dream of getting into the top 10."

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"I hope playing in the Japanese T-League, for Okayama Rivets [makes that happen]. Also, the good thing that happened in the pandemic is I will now be preparing for the Olympics actually. It [the League] was initially planned after the Olympics, but now I will be playing in Japan and preparing for the Olympics. And, Japan is a very nice country, so I hope I have a very good time there. Looking forward to – once COVID is gone – take the flight to Japan and start off with the T-League probably in October or something like that," Sathiyan added.

During the conversation, Sathiyan was also asked about his Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship gold that he won with Ankita Das in 2016.

Sathiyan sad that it "very much" a surprise, "because that was the first tournament I played after my dad passed away. Even Ankita’s dad had passed away at that time. It happened almost in back to back days. We were really sad and both of us were really devastated. So, for the both of us to send a strong message playing together, I think that was the energy which came in… probably our dads gave us that extra energy. So, we played like crazy."

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"Ankita was also so good on court, not missing a shot. We were just ruthless in trying to win, and went on to become the first ever Indian pair to win a mixed doubles gold in championship history. That was a very big moment," Sathiyan said.

"I am generally good in doubles also. I played well with Manika [Batra], I played well with Archana [Kamath]. We won the Commonwealth Championship gold again with Archana. So, I have two commonwealth golds in mixed doubles. I like trying to find out... so it is important to give them the freedom but also tell them the right techniques an tactics to play. It’s more fun trying to understand the opponent and your partner."

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