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Table Tennis

"I was 11 when Chandrasekhar Sir told me I would win the National title one day" - G Sathiyan

India's ace table tennis player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran condoles the death of his coach V Chandrasekhar, who passed away today due to COVID.

G Sathiyan with V Chandrasekhar

G Sathiyan with V Chandrasekhar


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 12 May 2021 10:37 AM GMT

India's ace table tennis player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran condoles the death of his coach V Chandrasekhar, who passed away today due to COVID.

Arjuna award-winning former India table tennis player V Chandrasekhar died at a private hospital in Chennai on Wednesday due to COVID-19 related complications, family sources said. He was 64 and is survived by his wife and a son. Chandra, as he was popularly known, was a three-time national champion.

The Chennai-born player, who had reached the semifinals of the Commonwealth Games in 1982, was also a successful coach.

His playing career was cut short in 1984 following a botched knee surgery at a hospital here which led to him losing mobility, speech and vision. He fought back to recover and served the game as a coach. Over the years Chandrasekhar under tutelage, some of the best paddlers of the country, including Chetan Baboor, Anthony Amalraj, and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran.

Sathiyan, who is ranked 38th in the world and has already qualified for Tokyo Olympics, picked up learning tabletennis under his 'Chandra Sir'. And along with other students, the ace paddler condoled his death, saying that the sport has lost a legend.

"It was shocking news. Chandra Sir is gone too soon. It is not only a personal loss for me but also for my family, as my parents and sister were all very close to him." says Sathiyan in a conversation with The Bridge.

Sathiyan had trained under Chandrasekhar for 14 years from 1998 to 2012 since he was just five years old. "My entire childhood was spent in his academy and it was he who taught me how to hold a racket and serve, I started training under him from the scratch. All my first wins - from Asian Games to Commonwealth as well as the junior level wins came under him," recalls Sathiyan.

"While others asked me to change my style, Chandra Sir encouraged me to play in my own style and cherished the fact that it was unique. In his academy, we used to wear green shirts, and called ourselves the Green Army of Chandranath Sir."

Sathiyan fulfilled a long-standing dream in February this year when he won his maiden National Table Tennis Championships crown in Panchkula. Pitted against close rival and nine-time champion Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan won the final (4-2) with the scoreline 11-6, 11-7, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8. Arguably one of the finest table tennis players that India has produced, Sathiyan also became the first Indian to break into the top 25 of the ITTF world rankings. He achieved a career-best world ranking of 24 in 2019. "When I was 11 years old, and had lost the U-12 national championship, I was really heartbroken. Chandra Sir had told me to not worry because he believed I was senior national champion material. He recalled that incident he called me when I became the national champion two months ago. He told me that he knew this would happen," says Sathiyan.

"Despite having so many medical issues, Chandra Sir challenged all setbacks and became an inspiration for not only me but for the entire table tennis fraternity. He was a coaching legend. I was always in touch with him and have adopted the 'never give up' attitude from Sir, who never gave up himself and asked us to aim for higher goals every time."

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