Interview: Catching up with Hyderabad's latest table tennis sensation, S Fidel R Snehit
S Fidel R Snehit, like all sporting champions worth their salt, likes to be seen (winning the big tournaments) than heard (as he believes his wins will speak on his behalf). This 19-year-old table tennis champion who has played 17 international tournaments and won as many medals believes that anything besides practice or the actual tournament are distractions. Not surprisingly, he is the first table tennis player from Hyderabad to break into the top 25 in the world ranking (#23 in 2018 Juniors ranking). So does the first Hyderabadi boy to have won an international title (Jordan Open in 2017) and pursuing a journalism degree feel the pressure of having to outshine the other Hyderabadi sporting stars like PV Sindhu? “No pressure. In fact, Hyderabad sports stars, especially shuttlers, inspire me by breaking the so-called strong ‘China Wall’. If our annalu (brothers) and akkalu (sisters) can do in badminton, why can’t we in TT?” he asks. “At 15, I travelled alone to Sweden to train under former world champion Peter Karlsson for two months.
Taking a cue from me, a lot of players are now going abroad for better coaching,” he adds. Snehit is hard to pin down for an interview as his day begins with a two-hour physical fitness session, training from 9 am till lunch and again for four hours post tea time till 9 pm under former national champion and Arjuna Awardee S Raman and a weekend motivational session with sports psychologist Keerthana Swaminathan. “Being the first player to be on the top four in cadets, sub juniors and juniors at the national level, I wish to perform in the men’s category before I turn 21. Despite tough competition from Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Gujarat, I am the only player from South India to be in the national squad. This has given confidence to a generation of players like me from Hyderabad to go all out for the win. What’s in store for 2020 for this rising talent who defeated TT legend Sharath Kamal in 2018? “To be in the top four in men’s category in India while trying to improve international ranking.”Go Snehit.
Picture: RVK Rao