New Delhi: Beating Japanese World No.4 two years ago is a special motivation for Indian table tennis player G Sathiyan. He is banking on that experience to win a medal at the Olympics. A historical medal-winning performance against Japan at the Asian Games is also adding confidence to the aspirations of G Sathiyan. He also feels that playing local league in the Olympic host nation will help him in a huge manner in the upcoming Tokyo Games.
Sathiyan feels he is a much better player than he was at the 2018 Asian Games, considered a mini Olympics in the fraternity. He won his two matches against Japan in the quarterfinals to end India’s 60-year wait for a medal at the continental Games.
Sathiyan’s good run against Japan continued the following year when he stunned World No.4 Harimoto Tomokazu in the Asian Championships. However, the team lost the rubber.
Both Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal are seeded in the 17-32 bracket and will get a first round bye.
“A quarterfinal finish would be amazing. It would be difficult but beating the likes of Harimoto gives a lot of confidence. And if you do manage to reach the last eight, then you can take anyone down on a given day,” Sathiyan said Monday. He had just finished his first training session at Tokyo.
Sathiyan doesn’t have his personal coach and Olympian S Raman by his side in Tokyo. This is because Manika Batra’s personal coach got the nod over him. Sathiyan is disappointed, but is taking it in his stride.
“Of course it is disappointing he (Raman) won’t be there. He was there at Asian Games and I really played well. His presence itself made a difference but these are Covid-19 times and there are restrictions,” said the World No.38.
Sathiyan feels the players from top TT nations such as China, Korea and Japan are under more pressure in multi-sporting events. It makes them slightly more vulnerable.
“There is a lot of pressure on the top Asian players as they are the favourites to win. We could see the pressure when we played against them (Japan in 2018). That is what we capitalised on. If you play aggressive from the beginning then you can make inroads and put them under pressure,” Sathiyan pointed out. “They well be prepared and will not take us lightly anymore,” he added.
Sathiyan chose to train in Raman’s academy in Chennai and did not travel for the national camp in Sonepat ahead of the Games. He feels he made the right call by staying put in Covid-19 times.
“I would have loved to bring in some sparring partners from outside India but, nonetheless, I had good sessions with Anirban Ghosh. We worked on match simulations, variations in my serve, strokeplay and speed of course. I have worked a lot on power-hitting which has not been my forte,” the paddler signed off.