EM­BRAC­ING A NEW LIFESTYLE

Min­i­mal choco­lates, zero sweets and hard work be­hind Sathiyan’s rise from ob­scu­rity to World No. 31

Mail Today - - TABLE TENNIS | EQUESTRIAN - By Ro­hit Paniker in New Delhi

IT WAS THREE years ago when G Sathiyan got a wake-up call. It wasn’t his coach, nei­ther his fam­ily – it was a sim­ple blood test re­port.

At that time, the Chen­nai boy was fresh out of en­gi­neer­ing col­lege and try­ing to make a name for him­self in the pro­fes­sional cir­cuit when re­al­ity hit him. A string of poor per­for­mances brought the 25-year-old face-to-face with a sim­i­lar foe – junk food.

“I was wrong in think­ing I would never gain weight de­spite what­ever I ate,” Sathiyan said dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with Mail To­day on Thurs­day.

“I used to eat a lot of choco­lates, ate a few af­ter ev­ery match, in fact. I loved sweets and con­stantly binged on them. I was not get­ting fat in ap­pear­ance de­spite eat­ing junk and that ob­vi­ously mo­ti­vated me to eat more. My habits had a big im­pact on my per­for­mance and that’s when I got the re­al­ity check. My blood test re­port showed I had no strength and en­durance. I wasn’t get­ting fat but it was bring­ing my game down,” he ex­plained.

Ba­nanas re­placed choco­lates, ice cream be­came a lux­ury and sweets ex­ited from his diet com­pletely as Sathiyan worked on the road to re­cov­ery.

Diet and nu­tri­tion weren’t the only two as­pects the Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal­list worked on. A plethora of change brought to fit­ness and tech­nique re­sulted in the 25-year-old rise from out­side a rank of 100 in

2017 to ca­reer-high 31st.

“I hired a team of pro­fes­sion­als who played a vi­tal role in where I stand to­day. I had to make a ma­jor change in my diet.

Zero sweets, very less choco­lates and a cheat meal a week be­came my lifestyle. I had to beat the beast in­side me – I to­tally worked upon my rank­ing. “Fit­ness worked as a key fac­tor, I be­lieve. The small regimes and serves – which are other­wise bor­ing – helped me im­prove. I served around 10002000 balls a day as part of my rou­tine. I nat­u­rally had a good speed and tried to max­imise that with strength and power. I worked on my core strength, since ta­ble ten­nis is a sport where you have to use your legs and hands are just to di­rect the ball. I in­creased my mass on the legs and core strength­en­ing also helped me im­prove my game,” said Sathiyan, an Asian Games bronze medal­list with the men’s team.

Look­ing for­ward, the World No. 31 sug­gested a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics re­mains a re­al­is­tic dream. Prepa­ra­tions have be­gun and a roadmap to the com­ing 20 months has al­ready been panned out.

“The 2020 Olympics is a re­al­is­tic dream. I think if I con­tinue to per­form like this, I could win a medal for the coun­try, even if it’s in dou­bles. I will train in Ja­pan and China and the up­com­ing tour­na­ments will also be im­por­tant. I will also have a pro­gram in Ger­many, will train there. The fo­cus will be on get­ting my rank in­side top 20 so that I get at­tain the qual­i­fy­ing mark and also get a favourable draw in the event,” he con­cluded.

I had to beat the beast in­side me. My habits had a big im­pact on my per­for­mance and that’s when I got the re­al­ity check.

The fo­cus will be on get­ting my rank in­side top 20 so that I get at­tain the qual­i­fy­ing mark for the 2020 Olympics.

— G SATHIYAN, IN­DIAN TA­BLE TEN­NIS STAR

Sathiyan hails vet­eran star and dou­bles partner Sharath Ka­mal (right). He calls him an in­spi­ra­tion for young­sters.

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