Sunday, December 21, 2014

Amalraj's date with the legend!

A casual chat with Anthony Amalraj last week:

Me: Hi, how are u? All good in Poland?

AA: Neha, I am so happy today.

Me: Wow, what’s the reason? Please share...

AA: I beat Persson.

Me: Wait, you mean you beat Jorgen Persson, one of the legends of table tennis?

AA: Yes, exactly him :-)

I couldn't help but write this!

Jorgen Persson has competed in 7 Olympic Games. He is 5 times world champion for team Sweden, twice World Cup winner, World champion in singles, European champion in singles, team and doubles. In short, he is a legend. A living legend. Although, he has retired from competitive sport, but continues to play in the Polish league for the club ZKS Palmiarnia Zielona Gora.

Amalraj beat Jorgen Person in a thrilling 3-1 victory, in the Polish league where he plays for the club AZS Politechnika.

So after the news of Sharath Kamal beating Kreanga Kalinikos this December, the news of Amalraj beating Persson, the legend, has bought smiles on the faces of a lot of TT lovers all over India.

So what would one do after beating a legendary table tennis player like Persson? Here’s what Amalraj did (his signature move after winning) - jumping high in excitement, as high as he can, refusing to stop until his satisfaction.  Have a look...

Beating Jorgen Persson was surely a dream come true for Amalraj, who as a kid, used equipment named after Persson, and watched a lot of his matches on TV and learnt from his game.

Amalraj and Persson sharing a light moment after the match

 2014 has been an amazing year for Amal, who currently lives and trains in Rzeszow, Poland.

He won the Silver Medal in the Commonwealth Games in Men’s doubles along with Sharath Kamal in August this year. The very humble Amalraj attributes his success to coach Peter Engel. Peter was sure that the combination of Kamal and Amal would be a deadly one, a partnership that would surely win us a medal in the CWG. The duo delivered as expected, making the entire nation so proud!

Amalraj's signature jump after winning the Men's doubles semi finals at the CWG, Glasgow

We spoke at lengths about how Chennai welcomed him after his victory in Glasgow. “I was on cloud nine. For 4 days I barely slept. I haven’t met so many people in my life till now than I met in those 4 days. I was a hero suddenly. The response from the TN government was laudable. Our efforts have been recognized, this is great for our sport”

"Oh, I also go to meet Sachin Tendulkar!!!"

 Amal has been playing incredibly good in the Polish league which has become stronger this season because of addition of many top world ranked players like Hok Sang Yun(Korea), Cheng Wiexing( Austria), Yoshida Kaii( Japan), Wang Chung Tin( Hong Kong) and many more.

He has won 8 out of 14 matches till now, completing a successful first half of the league.

Amalraj is all excited to finally play the National Championship in Pondicherry in January 2015.

“I have missed the entire domestic season. It’s a great feeling to play in India, because the kind of love and support I get there is overwhelming”.

We all are excited as well; National Championship is the only tournament where we see the best of all Indians competing among each other.

Can he win the nationals? The clock is ticking, 3 more weeks to go!

Good luck, Anthony Amalraj.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


 Dear Malala,

Your speech in Oslo just shook me; it gave me goose bumps on my skin, tears in my eyes and enormous respect for you in my heart.

When the news of you getting the Nobel Peace Prize was out in October this year, I did a Google search on you. Call me ignorant, but before that I just knew that you are the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban.

And then today I watched the entire award ceremony.

 Dear Malala, you are an inspiration to all women and men- your struggles depict the amount of strength a fearless and a courageous woman could possess. Your story proves the saying, that the pen is mightier than the sword.

 Malala, your commitment and dedication towards achieving your goal, inspires me. The passion in your voice, the sparkle in your eye, strengthens me. Your struggles wake me up from by ignorant slumber and your steps guide me to take the road less travelled. 

At an age when girls are concerned about pimples, fashion and boyfriends and are still discovering themselves, you, at that age, have stood up for the basic right of the girl child, the right to education, all over the world. Malala, I salute you. 

As I watched you receiving the Nobel Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, two of you who are fighting for the cause of child education and child labour, I was reminded of the child of the lady who works as a domestic help at my place. I felt deeply ashamed, she does not go to school, and occasionally replaces her mother at work in an event of an emergency. Remorseful thought.

And then Malala, you inspire me further. 

You inspire me to stand up and speak up for my rights, to go out there and fight, that age is not a barrier and doing what you feel is right, is never a crime. 

Your story is a slap on the faces of all those who go to school, but never study, those who complain of studies being a burden, to all those who do not respect their teachers and to those who have access to internet, but use it only to ”have fun”.

Your friend’s dream of becoming a doctor was crushed into pieces by the hooligans who forced her into marriage at the age of 12, and motherhood at the age of 14. But Malala, I hope that your dream, of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan, turns into reality one day.

I have ordered my copy of I am Malala.

You are my strength.

More power to you.

A woman.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Ever wondered how some players are able to beat the ones who are much higher ranked than them? They might not be as experienced as the other, sometimes not even stronger than the other, yet they do the impossible. 

 In the just concluded Men’s world cup, Aruna Quadri from Nigeria who is the current world no.73 beat world no.27 Kenta Matsudaira from Japan, world no.37 Shibaev Alexander from Russia and World no.16 Tang Peng from HongKong.  How did he do this? Of course he’s playing the best table tennis of his life at this point, but what’s that one quality that makes him beat these top ranked players?


Sharath Kamal and Subhajit Saha beat Ma Lin and Zhang Jike from China in Men Doubles round of 32 in the 2012 Asian Championship. How did they do this?

Again, it’s the clichéd SELF BELIEF.

In matches when we have to play against a higher ranked opponent, many a times we pay too much attention to the past records and rankings. Agree or no, most of us do. And that is the culprit. Rankings and records are just numbers. Because when you step inside the court, the game starts with love all. Both have an equal probability to win. But in your mind, if you give too much importance to the rankings and give enormous respect to the opponent (more than what is required) you have lost already even before starting the game. If you have worked really hard, but you fail to believe in yourself, you will waste all the effort you had made.

I truly believe that it doesn’t matter if you are up against the no.1 player in your district, state, country or the entire world,you must have the belief that you are going to win. Go to the match as a winner. To beat your opponent, regardless of his/her ranking. You first need to have that positive attitude, and then believe in yourself that you can really do it.

Look around yourself, maybe you too did something similar in the past, then what’s stopping you to do it all over again? The answer lies within you!

Many times even the coaches fail to show their confidence in their student. That’s really upsetting. When we are drawn up against any Chinese, or Korean or a Japanese, generally the player is told that “Oh it’s a tough match, so just go enjoy or just give your best”. Well of course we need to enjoy and give in our best, but what is most important is to show the belief that the player will win. It certainly makes a huge difference.

Table tennis is a short game. During the proceedings of the game you never know, one or two good shots from your side, one or two edge balls, an off day for the opponent and he/she is under pressure. 
Sport is beautiful. It gives equal opportunity to each and every player irrespective of his/ her ranking, country, religion, colour, or whatever bias one can think of.

Why not seize the opportunity?

Believe in yourself, you never know, you end up surprising yourself and that’s when miracles happen and that’s how history is created.

Monday, October 13, 2014


As the Central Zone held at Indore ended, I kept wondering about the beauty of sport. Everyone has a scope of getting a 100 % in any exam, but in sport, there is only ONE winner. Yes, 1.2 billion people, but only one winner. That’s a bit cruel isn’t it? All those who took part had an eye on the title, but alas, only one can win. And that’s why sport is different. And this tournament made it much more exciting because there were winners who silenced the critics and won in style.

And how does it feel when one wins after a long long time?

 8 years!!! Devesh Karia. Hats off to his commitment.  This is his first Men’s singles title. No, I cannot imagine how happy and satisfied he must be. Not only did he win, he also won in style. He beat the reigning National Champion Sanil Shetty in semi finals and Inter Institution winner G.Sathiyan in the finals.  How did he do this? Well, of course Devesh can answer this best. But here’s what I feel. Passion, Commitment, Dedication, Hard work and the Zeal. “It feels amazing to have won this, I still cant believe I did it” exclaimed  Devesh.  He is posted in Bhavnagar (Gujarat), as an Income Tax Inspector and is married to Kanchan Thakkar. Although training facilities there are nowhere near to what he had in PSPB Academy, Ajmer where he trained for 10 years, yet, he battled all odds to make it happen. He has shown that one cannot always get the best of the facilities, but champions make the best out of what is available. Take a bow dear friend. 

Mouma Das, after 3 long years the Women Singles Winner! Last winning in 2011, this was definitely a special one for her. Missing out on the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year, she had a point to prove. Look at her journey to the title: She beat Manika Batra in Pre quarters, Poulomi Ghatak in Quarters, Ankita Das in the Semi finals and Pooja Sahasrabudhe in the Finals. 60% of the team that went for the CWG 2014!  Hats off to you Mouma. How did she do this? We have been training together in the National training camps in Patiala since January this year. She’s one player, with whom it’s super fun to practice with. She fights for each and every point and makes you run for your life. Making a comeback demands huge amount of hard-work, self belief, dedication and discipline.” I never took a session off for 2 weeks!” revealed Mouma. That’s what champions are made of. Big salute to you!

Mallika Bhandarkar, after 3 challenging years, won the Youth girls title. The magical girl from Nagpur, who had an almost 90% win in her cadets and sub juniors days, and also a successful junior career, struggled to make her mark in the U-21 category. I am sure that this win,after Bolpur in 2011, was very sweet. Even better, because she beat the top ones in the youth section en-route the title: Reeth Rishya in Semis finals and Manika Batra in the finals. “I stopped believing in myself, and there was a point when I was just not winning. This win is something different, it was definitely a long wait.” confessed Mallika. She has been struggling with her shoulder injury for the last 2 years which forced her to stay away from the game for almost 6 months earlier this year. Loosing about 38 kgs of bodyweight within a period of 1.7 years, she stood proud at the podium. When tears of joy roll down your eyes, you know it’s different. The nation is proud of you!

These are examples of perseverance, hard-work, dedication, passion and commitment. 

But the question here is, will they be able to continue the winning streak?

Good luck to all playing in Gandhidham this week!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


So imagine this situation: You switch on the television, you are swapping through the channels and to your surprise, they are showing table tennis. Excited, you immediately take your seat on your most comfortable couch and watch passionately. So what are the first few things you notice? Who’s playing, what tournament it is, what’s the score, and of course how the players look! Deny that, but yes, everyone does notice that. And if that spectator is not from the table tennis family, he/she would rather change the channel than watch paddlers lazily struggling to reach the other end of the table carrying huge weight on the tummy in ill-fitted attire.
Table Tennis is not widely shown on television, but when it is, isn’t it our responsibility to portray a good image of our sport to the world? Sadly, we are not working on this. We do take the liberty to blame the media that it ignores our sport, but what are we doing as players to increase the popularity of our sport which is so beautiful?

Interestingly, during the Commonwealth Games in July 2014, all the important matches were telecasted on Ten Sports. DD Sport covers most of our National Ranking tournaments. The National Championship is shown live all 7 days!

Now, ask yourself, the same question.

As players, I feel it’s our duty to sell our sport in a positive way.

Here’s what we can work on:


This one is quiet self explanatory. Nobody would like to watch two people playing, but not fighting hard enough to win a point. It does not matter if you are playing in seniors or juniors or sub juniors, its fun to watch the game when both the players are fighting their nerves out to win each and every point. The killer eyes, the pumping fists, the body language of a warrior and the ‘fighting till the end attitude’ is what is expected out of a sportsperson. Sad and dull behaviour is not at all interesting to watch. Well, I don’t mean drama here, but don’t we love the way Sharath Kamal fights with a killer attitude for each and every point? Amalraj’s epic jump after winning the semis finals of men's doubles in the CWG 2014 has made him famous all over. It was an involuntary act, not planned at all, but his picture was posted all over social media and in all the major newspapers the next two days. Well, this topic is quiet sensitive as how one behaves on the table is one's personal choice. Some like to show, some don’t. But majorly, a positive and aggressive body language brings in some interest and excitement for the audience too. You must be able to engage the audience. It’s no fun to play if there is nobody to watch. Nobody likes empty galleries. Isn’t it? For the just concluded National Ranking Championship held in Indore, DD Sports telecasted the finals live. It was so interesting to watch both Mouma Das and S.Pooja fight hard for each and every point. Mouma is a silent one, but Pooja is expressive. Yet, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. That’s the beauty of on the table behaviour. And that’s how we can engage the audience and do our bit to promote the sport we love so dearly.




We as Indians have improved on our technique, tactically we are good, and we are hard workers, then why are we still not able to compete with the best in the world? It’s because of the Physical Fitness level. Yes, we have ignored this aspect of the game since a long time now. It is hampering our personal development as a player on one hand, and the image of the game on the other. Why do I say the image of the game? Well its sport what we are doing, and the basic requirement to play any sport is to be physically fit. Nobody would appreciate tyres coming out from the sides; everyone goes mad over six packs. All racquet sports demand high fitness levels. When tennis, badminton and squash can do it, then why not table tennis? I felt the difference when I was at the Asian Games, and frankly, we are nowhere near them. Sportspersons are all beautiful looking people. No I don’t mean the colour of the skin or a pretty face, but it’s the glow on their faces and the beautiful bodies they posses, which I personally feel is an asset. Being physically fit increases your confidence. And of course, when you are not struggling to move from one end to the other, you naturally rise above all. And then it’s fun for the spectator too. I don’t mean work for somebody else, but all I want to convey is that work for yourself and your sport and you will feel the difference. I did, I am 6 kgs lighter than last year, I feel confident, I m moving well on the table and of course, the compliments! Who dosent like them?
Another important aspect of on the table look is the choice of clothing. Ill fitted clothes don’t give a positive image to the world. Invest in it if you can. Experiment with colours, and a little bit of fashion here and there dosent hurt. Especially for girls, try skirts. They are comfortable and they look great! (It’s my personal experience, I feel much more confident after losing weight and switching to skirts). Again this is a personal choice and depends on what one is comfortable in, but I am just sharing my own views. But look good and bring in some glamour. I’d like to tell you all, that all the major clubs in Europe demand the girls to wear skirts for the league matches. This is just one of the marketing strategies they have adopted which is working well.
We can debate on this for hours together. But then, Saina Nehwal is often spotted in shorts and Sania Mirza always in skirts, yet both look equally amazing while playing. It’s the on the court look. Saina is super fit and Sania is super hot!


Well, it’s sad and true that our events are not as widely covered in the print and electronic media as we expect them to be. But when the National tournaments are conducted in smaller cities, I have often experienced that the print media surely covers table tennis. Also, in a few major cities like Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Indore, etc even the district and state tournaments are widely covered by the media. We must appreciate the State Associations for making a good effort. The TTFI has also been working on this lately and there is surely a positive change now. But again, as players, are we doing our bit? When the media comes to talk to us, regardless of what newspaper or news channel it is, we must be able to talk to them properly. We must entertain them and should be able to convey our thoughts and views clearly. There is no room for any hesitation. I don’t mean use superficial English. I love the way the wrestlers from Haryana talk so well in Hindi. It’s not about the language; it’s about your ability to express. It’s sad but true that even our top players who have frequent interaction with the media are unable to do it properly. We must, therefore, as players make a conscious effort to elevate the level of the game during our personal and social interactions. As times are changing so must our tools of promotion. It’s our duty to sell our sport whenever and wherever we get an opportunity to do so.

Table Tennis is a beautiful game and is widely played in India. It has given so much to each one of us. It’s our duty to promote our game. We must feel that responsibility. And it’s not the top 20-30 players I am talking to, it’s an appeal to the entire table tennis fraternity of India.

Understand. Relate. Introspect. Act. If not now, then when?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

An emotional sendoff for the Asian Games

ज़िंदगी का बहुत बड़ा सच है,
की लड़कियाँ किसी को नही पसंद है.
जब पैदा होती है तभी से उनकी रक्षा की सोच बनती है,
उनकी सारी काबिलियत इसी सोच से छनती है.

पर आपने इस सोच को बदल दिया,
अपनी काबिलियत से कुछ नया किया.
इतनी ट्रोफी और मेडल देख कर,
सबके मूह बँध हो गये.
आपको आगे बदते देख बाहरवाले क्या, घरवाले भी दंग हो गये,

जब शादी करके आई थी तो
पता नही था आप इतनी बड़ी हस्ती हो,
पर धीरे धीरे पता चल की
पढ़ाई, खेल और घूमने में कितना .फस्ति हो.

आपने खेलों के लिए सब कुछ नियोछावार कर दिया,
अपना बचपन, लड़कपन, सब अपने को प्रूव करने में लगा दिया.
और यही जीवन की सच्चाई है,
की आपने बहुत नाम, इज़्ज़त कमाई है,

माना कई लड़कियों ने अपना बचपन जिया,
पर उन्होने ज़िंदगी में कुछ नही किया.

मैं भी उनमे से ही एक हू पर,
चाहती हू मेरी बेटियाँ आपकी तरह कुछ बने,
औरों के लिए नही पर ,
अपने लिए,अपनी ज़िंदगी के लिए कुछ अलग नये सपने चुने,

आप एक रोल मॉडेल हो सबके लिए,
जो बताते है की ज़िंदगी कैसे जिए,

सोच बदलो, विश्‍वास रखो,
हम भी कम नही,
यह अहसास रखो.

Friday, September 19, 2014


I went though the AKG academy diary and found a beautiful piece of information on Match preparation written by former international and performance analyst Rajath Kamal. I have added my inputs to it and shared below.


Imagine a situation where you forgot your lucky t-shirt in the room, or you could not
find transport to the venue and ended up reaching late and could not warm up well, or you ate something that made you feel uncomfortable or you forgot to keep your racket itself. Of course nobody would want to be in such kind of a situation, which unfortunately can happen if things are not planned. And that's exactly why Match Preparation is very important. What you do just before
your match, how you slept the previous night, what you eat, how you warm up,etc are a few things that play a major role in your performance during the match. Although it differs from each player as to what he/she feels comfortable in, here are a few points to keep in mind before an important match:


Make sure you arrive at the venue of the tournament well in advance to get acclimatized to the weather, playing conditions, food and accommodation. 2-­3 good practice sessions will help you get used to the playing hall, and understand the behavior of the ball and the table. Since India is a
huge country with different weather conditions and food available in different cities, make sure you feel comfortable with these two aspects as you travel around for various tournaments.


Make sure everything is ready for the day of your tournament. Prepare your bag, check your rackets and shoes, extra t-shirts,etc, forgetting anything could cause unnecessary stress. Have the right amount of sleep the night before the match – around 7-­8 hours. Allow plenty of time to arrive at the stadium too; you won’t want to be in a rush. Be there at the venue at least 45 mins in advance so that you have enough time for warm up and mental preparation. If you have an early morning match, its advisable to wake up at least 3 hours before the scheduled time of the match.


Eat light before a match. During the match you need to be high with energy. Try to eat lots of
carbohydrates for the major meals(rice, potatoes, wheat cereals, kidney beans, etc) You can break you meal into multiple small eats. If you are a person who needs to eat a bit heavily then you need to finish your meal at least 2 hours before your match. Have small snacks like bananas, apples, energy bars and drinks (Gatorade, lemon water), etc . in your bag to consume just before the match or during the match if need be. Hydrate your body with fluids before you feel thirsty. Since in a table tennis tournament, a player plays a lot of matches in a single day, it’s also important to eat within 45 minutes of finishing the match, so as to recover and be ready for the next match. Avoid all sorts of junk food and alcohol during the entire tournament.


During hot weather the body is already warm and needs lesser time to get completely warmed up. Focus on full body stretches and a couple of mild agility exercises. Be careful not to tire yourself with warm up. During colder weathers you need a longer time to get warmed up and so the intensity of the exercises will also be higher. Then, if possible, try to play a few rallies on the table with a friend to get the feel. This completes your warm up regime.


It’s a good idea to sit away from the crowd, close your eyes, and visualize yourself playing the
match. You can use stimulating music to help you cut off from the crowd. Take a deep breath and
relax and Just imagine the following:­
  • you are starting the match very well
  • you are getting all your strokes right
  • you are very confident about yourself
  • you are moving very well, in a rhythmic flow
  • the crowd is cheering for you
  • and you are winning the match and receiving the trophy!
This technique will help you to a great extent to overcome your psychological discomfort during
the match and make you a lot more confident.
Although there are a lot of different visualization techniques, this is a basic one which, if done
properly, can do wonders in terms of boosting your confidence level, lowering self-doubt,
controlling anxiety, and being focused before and during the match.


It’s a good habit to write in a diary about the game and opponent after every match. This will help you analyse your game and it will be useful for future references. If you are playing a match with a known opponent you need to work out a match strategy with the coach. You can take tips from the coach, you can refer to your diary to look for your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses or alternatively you can discuss the game strategy with a friend who has played your opponent recently. This way you are prepared for your opponent from the first point of the match.


During the match, try to focus on playing your best table tennis rather than focusing on the score. Try to plan out every point of the game. During pressure situations try to take deep breathes, focus only on your plan and be confident. Generally have the following things in mind while serving and receiving:­

While serving:­
  • Service is the only stroke that you have full control over. So make the best of it.
  • Serve in such a way that the opponent has only one or two options to receive
  • Be ready for those two options. Do not serve and then think about the follow up but prepare for it even before you serve.
While receiving:­
  • A good quality receive prevents your opponent from taking advantage of his service. Generally it is preventing the opponent from playing an aggressive stroke.
  • Plan for the follow up after your receive. If you have a solid stroke to follow-up, your receive will seem sharper.

This a brief account on match preparation and as I said earlier, it can vary from person to
person. However, this is a basic and general suggestion.

I have been following it religiously and I hope that these basic yet important and useful tips will help you perform better.


Sunday, September 14, 2014


To reach at the heighest level in table tennis, one needs  to be in the best of his/ her physical abilities. We Indians especially need to get stronger in terms of speed, agility, and power in the legs and strength in the core. Being physically strong gives you an extra edge over others, you move better on the table, you survive better during tensed situations and most importantly, it boosts your confidence level.
I m writing this from patiala where I m currently with the national team preparing for the upcoming Asian Games. The last week was quiet intensive as we worked on the physical fitness on the table in the mornings and off the table in the evenings.
I am sharing last  weeks fitness programme (through videos and pictures)which was given by Peter and hope you guys will like it and try it during your practice session.


Every morning finishing the session with footwork. choose any footwork exercise and do it for 5minsX 4 times. [Twice each for the one who is moving]



Target area: LEGS for speed and agility

1. Dribble on the spot and when commanded  left, quickly touch the corner of the table with right hand and vice versa. each set for approx {45 sec X 5 times} x 3 SETS [see video]

2. Lunge squat on the spot for 15 sec and then chair sitting 15 sec. - 1 minute X 3 SETS


Target area: core

All exercises for 30 sec each

1.Throwing medicine ball sideways 3 times each side [see video]

2. Boat pose 3 times

3. Crunches 3 times [see video]

4. Back strengthning 3 times each side

5. Superman 3 times


Off in the evening. But in the morning I did this:

Peter calls it, its table tennis football. A box full of multiball hes throwing in a rhythmetic speed and different heights and lengths. I need to hit each ball with my legs. This improves your footwork and short step movements essential to table tennis. Focus on the core to move better.


Target area: Legs for explosive power

1. Progressive jumps 3 times[see video]

2. Cone speed work 3 times[see video]

3.Jumping with medicine ball throw 3 times.[see video]


Target area: CORE

Same as the one on Tuesday


The beep teast, also callled the MULTISTAGE FITNESS test, is a killing one. The test includes running for 20 meters up and down. You need to reach 20 mts within the time given between 2 beeps. The time between 2 beeps gets reduced with each level you reach. Its gets tougher with each level especially after the 5th one. The heighest for the boys was done by G.Sathiyan reaching level 12.12 and girls by Manika Batra reaching level 9.4. I did level 8.2. This is a test of your speed, agility and endurance. We measured the heart rate and  mine went upto 110% with approximate 200 beats per minute. This just means I gave my best, and thats what it also measures. Its a test of will power, you need to beat yourself rather than competing with an opponent. The recovery was within half a minute. You can download it from the play store in android and apple. There are many options but the one which is paid (approx.1 euro) is the best one.




1. Stretching properly after each session
2. Sauna/ steam bath on wednesday and saturday
3. Massage on sunday
4. Drink lots of water

Rest and recovery are an essential part of the schedule and is as important as training. It allows your body to recover from the intensive training and keeps you injury free. Also makes you fresh to work again the next day.


A healthy and well balanced Diet is an essential part of a sportspersons life. If you are working out a lot and not refueling your body with the right amount of nutrients it needs, you will not recover well from the training. Infact, it could lead to injuries. We must keep ourselves away from junk food as much as possible. Proper intake of carbs and protiens is a must. And for women especially, do check your iron levels. As table tennis players, we mostly stay indoors, so our vitamin D levels could to be low. A thorough check up would be great to know if there is a deficiency and then take suppliments accordingly.

Hope you all enjoyed the programme like I did. I had a great weekend with good rest and awesome food and I cant wait for Monday to come and start working again!

Good luck! and enjoy Table Tennis!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The most important lesson of my life.

When I was a kid, I use to hear this sentence in the closing ceremony of all the table tennis tournaments I took part in  -“kids, winning and loosing does not matter, what matters the most is participation, and that's why lets give a round of applause to ourselves and feel proud that we made this tournament a huge success”. I could never comprehend this and it seemed nonsensical to me. In sport we all have had our wins and losses. And when the chief guest emphasized in his no-so-interesting speech that it was participation that mattered the most, I always mocked at him. I complained, sorry Mr. Chief Guest but I lost, I worked so hard for this, yet, I lost. Do you have any clue how it feels? It’s is a game the universe is playing with me, this cannot happen. I left no stone unturned, yet I lost. I haven’t even caused harm to anyone that karma is playing its part, then why me?? God, why me??? And on top of this, the gentleman wants to console me by saying that its participation that matters the most!!! Nothing can be more ridiculous than this!
I was innocent, immature and ignorant.

Its been almost 15 years that I have been playing table tennis actively, and when I patiently try to ponder, that what is the most important thing that sport has taught me, pat comes the reply, perseverance.

And that's when I understood, the chief guest was right, what matters the most is participation!!!!

In sport, the winner takes it all. By all I mean- the cash award, the medals, the trophies, the smiles, the happiness, the applause, the interviews, the newspaper headlines and the celebration. But, have you ever thought, what happens to the one who lost in the quarter finals, or the pre quarter finals? Or maybe the one who lost in the 1st round? Or the one who never qualified for the main draw? He feels lost and deeply shattered. But still, he chooses to go on. It’s his will to fight that keeps him going on. It’s the will to prepare for the next one, work harder than ever before, and the determination to knock each and every player down on his way to the podium in the next tournament. Yes, and that's why I say, what matters the most is perseverance.

Imagine, if we all said that no, I don’t want to do this anymore. There would be nobody to compete with. And competition is healthy. If we said, that I m not good at this, I cant do this anymore, there wouldn't be anyone to do sport which teaches us so many things. And sport imitates life. And that’s why I believe, that the chief guest was right. Winning and losing are just a part of this game and at the end what matters the most is that you participated.

In the year 2011 disappointed me, I didn't win a single match. I didn't go past the pre quarters.  I played the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but in 2012, I was nowhere near it. My ranking slipped to no.17th in the country. I felt betrayed by hard work. As I kept analyzing what was going wrong, I was being pulled down by a number of people who kept telling me- guess its time to call it a day, looks like you don’t have it in you anymore, or maybe its just a signal that now you must focus on other things, or maybe, get married!!!   To those who tried to pull me down- I forgive you. You were ignorant. I made a comeback in the national team in 2013. Yes, I did it. Although the journey was not smooth, I sacrificed a lot for that comeback, but I did it.  And that's when I realized, that yes, the chief guest was right. I kept going on, worked harder than ever, and never lost the will. Perseverance was what kept me going on.

I am talking about myself because that's what I can best describe and feel proud of. I m sure, each one of you reading this, must have faced a similar situation in your respective careers as well. That's why, take a moment aside, and pat your back. Feel proud of yourself that you kept going. Take pride for the fact that you still refuse to give up. Look in the mirror and tell yourself, I m proud of you and I love you. Admire your perseverance. Forgive the ones who asked you to quit. It does not matter if you are number 1 or number 295, if you got up each time you were knocked down, feel proud.

Thank you Mr. Chief Guest, you were right. A lesson well learnt.