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20 under 20: Chirag Shetty, age 16

Sunday, 7 April 2013 - 10:50pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

  • Puneet Chandhok dna

Like any other boy of his age, Chirag was charmed by cricket. His father had other thoughts. Why not consider an individual sport where you alone can control your destiny? And thus started his initiation to badminton. He is now the No 1 U-17 player in doubles in India. He has two feats in school nationals: he won the U-14 tourney and once clinched the bronze in the U-17 category (in 2011 and 2012 respectively). He was selected to represent Maharashtra in singles in 2011 and 2012. He lost the doubles U-15 finals in the nationals in Delhi two years ago.

Chirag has read Prakash Padukone's 'Touch Play'. By the way, he has trained under the badminton legend too. “He took the sport to great heights despite not getting the support initially. He won the U-19 and senior national championships in the same year,” Chirag says.

When did you get started?

I would play near my building. One day, my father took me to the Goregaon Sports Club where Manish Hadkar, my first coach, asked me to pursue the game. Initially, my father felt that I should play badminton just for fitness. It took four years to change his mind. After winning the Inter School title at the age of 12, I joined the Uday Pawar Badminton Academy at the GSC and then started doing well at the national level. Now, my father believes I can have a career as a badminton pro.

Where are you right now in your career?

I played the finals in the National Games in Delhi (2010). I was sent by Yonex-Sunrise and MBA to Jakarta (Indonesia) for a training stint in badminton and I won a local tournament there. Last year, I won two all-India major-ranking badminton tournaments: one in Hyderabad and the other in Mumbai. I've also been a silver medallist in a junior U-15 badminton tournament in Delhi (2011), besides being a semi-finalist in the U-17 national badminton championship in Jaipur the same year.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

I see myself playing in the final of the 2020 Olympics. Hopefully, I'll win the gold.

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