India's highest-ranked player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran feels that the country is enjoying a golden era in table tennis and believes that things will only get better from here.
"I think this is the Golden era of Indian table tennis. We are winning medals in every category, men, women, junior, sub-junior and even cadet. It is amazing. India is a big force in world table tennis now," he said during a press conference on the opening day of the 36th National Games here on Tuesday. The 29-year-old, who along with Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra, began the medal charge on the international stage, sees great promise and potential in the next line of players.
"In the last seven years, table tennis has transformed into a whole new sport. It is probably one of the most-improved sports across the board in the country," Sathiyan said.
Speaking about the National Games' role in further improving table tennis, Sathiyan said, "The Games gave me a great platform in 2015, to know where I stood. When you compete in a multisport event, it is a very different ball game. You learn a lot of things and they help us in bigger events like the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and the Olympics."
"For youngsters, it is a great platform to test their skills and test themselves under pressure," he added.
Incidentally, in the last edition of the Games in Kerala, Sathiyan was part of the Tamil Nadu men's team which had bagged the gold medal. This year, Tamil Nadu have not qualified for the eight-team event and he agrees that the sport has missed out on a potentially great clash against hosts Gujarat.
The World No. 37 is, however, keen to give his best in the individual event before heading for the World Championships in Chengdu.
"It is not going to be easy here as I am playing singles directly. But I have two days to get used to the conditions. I will practise a little bit and play my best in the Games," he promised.
"I hope I can really have a good tournament, have some Gujarati dishes and enjoy here," he added.
The 2022 National Games of India, will be the 36th edition of the National Games of India and will be held in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot and Bhavnagar in Gujarat between September 27 and October 10 2022. (ANI)