Lockdown Diaries: What's keeping young paddler Payas Jain busy?

Payas, who won gold at the 2019 International Table Tennis Federation World Cadet Challenge, is currently spending the enforced lockdown with his family.

Payas Jain serves during a meet.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

As sporting action around the world stays at a standstill on account of the coronavirus pandemic, young Indian paddler Payas Jain has managed to set up a makeshift gym at home to keep fit in the absence of competition.

The 15-year-old, who won gold at the 2019 International Table Tennis Federation World Cadet Challenge in Wladyslawowo, Poland, with Team Asia, is currently spending the enforced lockdown with his family in Rohini, Delhi.

Speaking to Sportstar, Payas said he is using the break to focus on his fitness and to practise with his siblings. “It (lockdown) is going great. I do fitness from 11am to 2pm every day. I have a table at home and every evening I play with my brother and sister for a few hours. We also watch matches and analyse our game.”

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Just in the nick of time, Payas, with the help of his physical trainer, managed to get enough equipment to set up a gym at home. “From sandbags to dumbbells, I have a fair amount of equipment at home. My coach (Anshul Garg) tells me what to do on FaceTime. The routine includes running followed by cardio and then practising specific movements to improve my game. We also do strengthening.”

But the youngster, who is ranked 23rd in the world in the juniors, is not all about training.

“In my free time, I watch Netflix. I am mostly completing my shows – Money Heist, The Game Changers and also Bollywood movies like Street Dancer.”

When asked whether he is picking up on other skills, Payas said: “I am also doing some meditation and also learning how to dance. I am not trained, but it’s something I have always been fond of. I did it (dancing) for a year or so before picking up a TT racket.”

Morale boost

Former India coach Massimo Costantini said he sees Payas as the next breakout star in Indian table tennis. Payas was ecstatic when he heard of the compliment and considers it a huge morale booster instead of added pressure.

“It is definitely very encouraging. I believe I can do well and I have already set myself a goal of winning gold at the 2024 Olympics. I am working really hard towards it and It feels great to be praised by such a senior coach,” he said.

According to Payas, who is benefiting from an ITTF scholarship, Costantini’s involvement and guidance has helped him a great deal in improving his game.

“When he (Costantini) was in India, he helped me a great deal. My father, coach and Massimo often held discussions and he brought technical changes into my game. We also discussed what tournaments I needed to play. He has been a great mentor. He guided me on what camps to attend and which ones to skip. Even now, I turn to him once in a while to seek his guidance,” he said.