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India No. 1 table tennis player practices with robot during lockdown

Sathiyan practices with the robot [PC: Sathiyan Instagram]
Sathiyan practices with the robot [PC: Sathiyan Instagram]
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Modified 10 Apr 2020, 12:33 IST
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With India currently observing a 21-day lockdown period, athletes have been adopting innovative techniques to keep themselves fit and hone their skills.

Similar is the story of India's No.1 ranked table tennis player, Sathiyan Gnansekaran, who is making the most use of a Butterfly Amicus Prime robot to help him develop new skills while cooped up inside his Chennai residence.

Technology has played a huge role in developing sports over the years, and in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Sathiyan claims that training with the robot was suggested to him by his coach, S Raman.

"We planned to get the robot last year in November, to help me prepare for the World Cup. My coach Raman sir suggested this, he felt that getting the robot would be ideal for some exclusive practice," Sathiyan said.

The 27-year-old paddler shed light on how he spends a couple of hours with the robot everyday, and also detailed out the various features which makes his 'sparring partner' a vital part of his training routine.

"The robot can send out around 120 balls per minute. It can help to improve speed, reflexes, technique and footwork. No human can put the same spin or pace on the ball. But the one thing is that it cannot play against you," he added.

Despite the fact that the robot can be customised to suit specific target routines such as the forehand, backhand or other features, Sathiyan emphasises on a human competitor being a lot more challenging that the robot.

The Chennai-born paddler credits his coach S.Raman for introducing him to the mechanism that was funded by GO Sports and flown in by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT).

Sathiyan was due to turn out at the TT Worlds event which was scheduled to be held in March. However, with the coronavirus pandemic bringing a standstill to sports events around the globe, the event has been pushed to begin on September 27th in South Korea.

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As for the Olympics, Sathiyan was happy that the quadrennial event was shifted to 2021 and expressed his happiness on how he can train a lot better to give his best at Tokyo next year.

"We had a great chance in the singles division, both Sharath (Kamal) and me. For me, the one year is a gain for me. I am improving every month, every year. I am taking it positively, I will be in better shape next year. I am looking forward to adding skills and dimensions to my game before the Olympics," the paddler quipped.
Published 10 Apr 2020, 12:33 IST
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