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Tokyo-bound Gnanasekaran fights lockdown to shine in Europe

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By Navneet Singh

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) To prepare for the Tokyo Olympics starting July 23, Indias ace table tennis player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran is competing in the 10-day long Polish Superliga that started on Friday.

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The 28-year-old Gnanasekaran is representing Jaroslaw, the city that is hosting the Polish Superliga. He reached Poland on Friday and will return on April 14.

According to Gnanasekaran, since several competitions are either being cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus, participating in the Polish league will keep him match fit.

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“It is a tough competition. So I wanted to compete to get the benefit of match practice in times of pandemic,” he told IANS.

In the quarter-finals, the Indian player won a crucial singles game to help his team beat Bydgoszcz team 3-1 and enter the last-four stage of the competition. The semi-finals will be played on April 7.

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Last month, the Chennai-based national champion had made the cut for Olympics men’s singles event during the Asian qualification tournament held in Doha.

Jakarta Asian Games bronze-medallist Sharath Kamal became the second Indian to book a berth for the Olympics in the men’s singles event.

“It was a tough quarter-final. The semis could be more challenging. Hope my team enters the final,” Gnanasekaran told IANS over phone from Jaroslaw.

Due to the new wave of coronavirus in Europe, there is a lockdown in several cities in Poland too.

“We are staying in a bio-bubble. We are not allowed to venture outside the hotel or the stadium. All the shops and restaurants are shut. The local government has allowed players from outside to compete because it’s a professional league. I’m just focusing on the tournament,” he added.



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