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Dream-come-true for Table Tennis coach

Venugopal Chandrasekaran’s agonising wait is over. The three-time former National table tennis champion, who has fought many battles over the table and off it, has realised his dream of starting an academy in own premises.

Dream-come-true for Table Tennis coach
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Venugopal Chandrasekaran

Chennai

At the age of 25, Chandrasekaran’s TT career was nipped in the bud when he was operated upon by a Chennai hospital after which he was paralysed because of a medical negligence. He had a brilliant career in the 1980s when he was competing with the likes of Manjit Dua and Kamlesh Mehta on the national scene when the tragedy struck. 

But that is history. Chandra did well to come back and recover from his paralysis, though his career was over by then. Never to give up, he started his academy and produced many budding players, who gave him the vicarious satisfaction of his playing days again. 

Chandra’s academy functioned out of the DG Vaishnav College and SBOA in the last 10 years and now the SDAT has allotted him the land to have a permanent place for his academy in Mogappair. 

“The space is four and a half grounds. Right now, I have only one floor for the academy with eight tables but we can go up to ground plus two which will be good enough for the academy to be in full swing,” says Chandrasekaran. 

Of the current lot in Chennai, Chandra’s wards include G Sathiyan, who has been there for a long time, Sangeetha, RS Raja, Chitresh, Aditya, DS Veera and Navaneeth. He has high hopes on Preyesh Raj, who is currently the India No 1 in cadets and sub-junior sections. Apart from SDAT-Medimix Chandra TT academy, Chennai got two more strong academies like CTTF and AKG with good training facilities. 

Chandra is happy that the game is more professionally run and the standard is much better but he is also cut up with the attitude of the parents of the young aspirants. “In the 1970s and 80s, table tennis was more amateurish, it was played more for enjoyment than for any return. But now, the parents want to know how fast the children could get returns, either an admission in a professional course or a job,” said Chandra. 

Chandrasekaran had participated in many international events after winning his first National in 1980 at Durgapur. He won a silver medal in the 1982 Commonwealth TT Championship in Bombay and he did well to qualify for the category 1 in the 1983 World Championship in Tokyo. He won the Sportsman of the Year award in 1981 and the Arjuna Award in 1984. He was also runner-up at the US Open in 1984. 

Chandra is now able to walk and he does not want to while away his time. “We are planning to have a league along the lines of cricket and badminton to promote the game and improve the prospects of players and coaches,” says Chandra. But his immediate goal is to find funds for improving facilities in the academy and to turn it into a model training centre. 

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