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Khel Ratna award is truly special: Satwik

Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is truly special, and getting it ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics is equally significant and a huge morale-booster, said R. Satiwiksairaj, after he and his doubles partner Chirag Shetty, were formally named to receive the prestigious award on Wednesday.

“Honestly, I was not expecting this so early. And, this is all the more special since we both (he and Chirag) got it. We feel it is a recognition of our achievements certainly, and we give credit to the family members, coach Mathias Boe, Gopi Sir (chief national coach P. Gopi Chand) and the entire support staff at Gopi Academy,” Satwik informed ‘Sportstar’.

“My parents are thrilled, and this is another memorable day for all of us,” he said.

“This has been a mixed year so far, I would say 50 per cent good and 50 per cent bad. We could have done much better, but the World No. 1 ranking is one of the most memorable moments besides winning the 2023 Asian Games gold,” Satwik said.

“Yes, there were times when I felt the going was not good, especially after the Japan Open. I had a long talk with our psychologist Shree Advani, who has been with us for one year now (brother of ace cueist Pankaj Advani), and then things started settling down as we desired,” he said.

“We are in a better comfort zone and played in the China Open after that. Yes, the specific objective will be to be as consistent as possible,” Satwik said.

“Honestly, I don’t think we need to change drastically in any aspect of the game. All we look for is to play to our potential and reduce the number of unforced errors in the run-up to the Olympics as winning gold there is the ultimate target,” he said.

“It is great to have someone like Boe (Mathias) as our coach and more importantly Gopi Sir travelling with us now. You know, I instinctively speak in Telugu, and since the understanding is much quicker and better during the matches, that is helping me a lot,” Satwik said.

“Maybe, I have to be better off in my communication with Boe too, and that will be taken care of for sure in the future too,” he said with a big smile.

“Having enjoyed what the feeling of being World No.1 was, we do target to be the best in the world besides chasing that Olympics gold for sure. It is a fact that many other players across the world are picking up a few new things watching us in action. That itself is a tribute to our support staff and the way we have been playing consistently,” Satwik explained.

“We will be giving more than 100 per cent, as always, in the run-up to the Paris Games and hope to realise that one ultimate dream – winning gold,” he signed off.

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