It was a ‘mixed’ start to the year for India’s first male badminton quarterfinalist at the Olympic Games. Last Thursday, Parupalli Kashyap (26) rose to a career-best rank of 11, up from 14. The same day, he crashed out of the Korea Open.
But Kashyap has set himself loftier goals this year. Foremost, is to win a medal at the World Championships.
“I’ve been doing well in the last six months,” he told this paper from Seoul. “I want to see how consistent I can be. My target has always been to win tournaments. The focus this year is on the All England Championships (March 5-10 at Birmingham) and World Championships (August 4-11 in Guangzhou, China). I hope to be in good form and get lucky at these major events. A medal at the World Championships is what I’m aiming for.”
So what have the defeats like the one in the Korea Open taught him? “I wanted to play Lee Chong Wei (World No 1) in the quarterfinals. I’m happy that I came close to beating a higher-ranked player (unseeded Kashyap lost to seventh seed Hu Yun of China 21-16 13-21 17-21). The international circuit is too demanding. You can’t be dejected at every loss. You always stress on how to improve. The phrase in the movie 3 Idiots — run after excellence, you’ll taste success — is appropriate for me.
He emphasised on proper planning for specific tournaments to achieve the desired results. “I just need to stay injury free and train harder. The results will naturally follow. Also, it’s important to have a good strategy against the top-20 players.”
Talking of fitness, he cited the example of Chinese players who have been pulling out of tournaments. “It’s a physically demanding sport. Every player has injury concerns. Small niggles need to be taken care of. Else, they’ll lead to major injuries,” he said.
“We need more high quality physios and trainers. We have a world-class coach in Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) but he is for the elite players. Hopefully, I can get the big results and join him. For the youngsters, we need more top-class academies. Corporate sponsorship is a must, so that the beginners are at least secured financially,” he added.
Kashyap pointed out that he has justified the tag of being an icon player for the Indian Badminton League by coming close to the top-10 ranked shuttlers. “Whichever team I play for, winning all my matches is the maximum I can do.”