India’s top table tennis players Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Achanta Sharath Kamal reacted to the death of Arjuna awardee V Chandrasekhar after the former table tennis player and coach passed away on Wednesday. Chandrasekhar passed away at 64 and is survived by his wife and a son. Chandrasekhar was a three-time national champion and Sharath Kamal calls it a “pity" that he didn’t have a longer career as a player and that he could have achieved so much more had he continued. His playing career was abruptly cut short due to a botched knee surgery at a hospital in 1984, which led him to lose mobility, speech and vision. However, he fought back those ailments to serve the game as a coach and also fought a legal battle against the hospital and got a verdict in his favour.
Sathiyan, in an exclusive conversation with News18.com, explained his coronavirus condition and said it was actually a mild case. “He was perfectly fine. He had a few symptoms like fever. We were in talks with the doctors as well making sure he was getting the best of care, bed and oxygen support. Three days before he got admitted he was fine, like he had a bit of fever and slight body pain. But the doctor wanted to admit him as a precaution," Sathiyan said. The Olympic-bound paddler further explained that his previous ailments and medical condition was the problem and that may have been one of the reasons.
Sharath also told News18.com that his father was in touch with Chandrasekhar’s manager and his father and Chandrasekhar had even spoken to each other.
“It’s a very personal loss, I was under him for 14 years from 1998 to 2012. I have trained under him completely in my junior days. He has taught me how to hold a racket and play table tennis. It was that kind of a very close relationship with him, even my dad and mom were very close to him. It is completely shocking, he is not even that old and used to be so active. Very sad, I don’t know what to say," Sathiyan expressed.
Sharath, on the other hand, explained that he didn’t know Chandrasekhar very closely and mostly knew him only as a coach and interacted during tournaments.
“He was the state coach in 1994 when I was in the U-12 category and that was my first interaction with him. I was never coached by him because I was mostly abroad and he couldn’t travel much because of his health conditions.
“He was a great character. One thing what I know about him is that he was very lively. Despite his health conditions, he was always very jovial. We will all be missing him surely," Sharath said.
Sathiyan, who had a closer association with the Arjuna awardee, had more insights to share. “He evolved me as a player, allowed me to play my style. He was the one who told me variations and placements were my strong points and that I should work on that and take that path. Even though a lot of people were against that saying that ‘he is not attacking, he doesn’t have the usual style’ but Shankar sir said it was my style and I should go with that. I achieved a lot in my junior days under him."
Sathiyan shared that he decided to move to his current coach Subramanian Raman because Chandrasekhar couldn’t travel with him and the latter was more than happy to let him go. In fact, Raman was one of his trainees. “I was constantly in touch with him, even after I won the nationals last year. He was the first person to call me. When I was 12 and lost the national finals, I remember him telling me ‘Don’t worry you lost this. You are a national champion material in the senior category.’ This is really shocking for me and my mom."
Sathiyan said it was because of Chandrasekhar that he started playing table tennis at a very young age. “He started his new academy near house, Medimix Chandra TT academy, and it was one of the best in the country at that point of time. My mom took me and my sisters to join. I was young and probably would have joined later but Chandra sir persisted that it was better for me to start young and that is how I started playing. He was already an Arjuna awardee and got me into playing when I was 5 years old."