Three-time National champion and former International loses his battle with COVID-related complications.
Three-time National table tennis champion and former International paddler V. Chandrasekar passed away here on Wednesday due to COVID-related complications. He was the current president of Tamizhaga Table Tennis Association (TTTA). He is survived by his wife Mala and 20-year-old son C. Sanjay, a final year engineering student.
The 63-year-old Chandrasekar, a 1982 Arjuna Award winner, was admitted to a city hospital recently for coronavirus, after which he developed lung infection. Chandra, as he was popularly known, has groomed many top-level players such as S. Raman, Arul Selvi, Chetan Baboor, N.R. Indu, M.S. Mythili and G. Sathiyan and teenager Preyesh Suresh Raj, to name a few.
Chandra has been coaching young paddlers for the last two decades. Starting his coaching stint in early 2000 at YMCA (Royapettah), he established his academy with support from the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu in Arumbakkam and later [now] in Mogappair.
Chandra, retired from State Bank of India, had a tumultuous journey, especially after a botched-up surgery on his right knee that cut short his career when he was just 26 years old. He fought a legal battle with the reputed hospital and eventually won the case. Despite his failing health and limited mobility — his peripheral vision was affected due to the after-effects of the surgery — he continued to coach youngsters with the same enthusiasm as his playing days.
As a player, he was attacking, always willing to experiment and take risks. Whether he was playing in local prize money tournaments or the National championships, people flocked to see Chandra play.
At the International level, Chandra had some success. He reached the semifinals and bagged a singles bronze in the 1982 Commonwealth Championships in Mumbai, and was instrumental in guiding the Indian men’s team from Group II to I in the 1983 World championships in Tokyo.
Spoke for unity
After the Tamil Nadu Table Tennis Association (TNTTA) split into two factions in 2018 — TNTTA and TTTA, Chandrasekar was made the president of TTTA. But he wasn’t entirely happy with the position and always spoke about unity in the TT fraternity.
In fact, he and G. Jagannath, another former National champion, prepared a blue-print for the future of TT in the State. “We told the two Units that they can fight the cases in court but hold tournaments as one unit so that the players don’t get affected, but things didn’t work out,” said the 76-year-old.
Chandra’s autobiography with Seetha Srikanth, My fightback from Death’s Door published in 2006, was well received as it frankly recounted in some detail certain important incidents in his playing career and his battle with the hospital, among other things. He wrote touchingly: “There are times when I stumble on the footpath, and people have thought that I was drunk. That is when it hurts for it is not my fault.”
Outspoken during and after his playing days, Chandra was a trailblazer both as a player and a coach. His legacy will live on.
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