Coronavirus Outbreak: India's top-ranked table tennis player G Sathiyan trains with robot to hone skills during lockdown
The robot, which Sathiyan imported from Germany, can launch up to 120 balls per minute from across the net with varying spin and speed
New Delhi: Stuck indoors and without a training partner during India’s COVID-19 lockdown, the country’s top table tennis player G Sathiyan says he is staying sharp by practising with a robot.
The governing International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has suspended all of its events and activities until June 30 and the three-week lockdown in force in India has disrupted the daily routines of athletes like Sathiyan.
— Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (@sathiyantt) April 10, 2020
The robot, which Sathiyan imported from Germany, can launch up to 120 balls per minute from across the net with varying spin and speed.
“The robot keeps me on my toes each day and I play with it for about one-and-half hours,” the 27-year-old told Friday’s Times of India newspaper.
“With no practice partners available, this is the best I can do to keep myself in the game mode,” said the world number 31, who is also an engineer.
While the machine is no substitute for training with a real partner it can do some things better.
“It can generate speeds and spin on the ball which no human can manage to,” he added.
“My receiving ability has improved and the flicks too have got better after playing with the robot.”
World Team TT Championships: Indian men's team beats Uzbekistan 3-0; Women's team loses 2-3 to Germany
Sreeja Akula and Diya Chitale put on impressive show but Manika Batra continues to be off-colour in India's loss to Germany in Group 5 opener. Among men's team, Harmeet Desai, G Sathiyan and Manav Thakkar won their respective singles ties to give India a comfortable win in Group 2.
"These goals were created hand in hand with people around the world in 2015; together we have an extraordinary opportunity to change the world that we live in," she said.
At the Birmingham Games last month, the star Indian paddler looked out of sorts and returned empty-handed.