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How did you first get involved in badminton, and what made you choose it as your career?
Observing my parents’ passion towards the sport since a young age sparked my interest towards Badminton. As I discerned their play every day, I became more inclined towards it and started to play under their guidance. This interest of mine was further elevated when my parents enrolled me for a Summer camp which allowed me to explore my skills further and made me aware of my proclivities towards it. The more I delved deeper into it the more my passion grew and hence I decided to choose it as my career. During the initial phase of my career, I faced severe financial difficulty though my parents were very supportive towards my career choice which made me achieve all I have today.
Badminton requires a high level of physical fitness and technical skill. How do you maintain your fitness and constantly improve your game?
Initially I was more focussed towards the sport and concentrating on enhancing my strokes especially during under 15 and under 30 tournaments, but when Covid-19 struck it took a mental toll on me. This is when I started to indulge in my fitness regime and commenced rigorous training. Before the pandemic I followed fitness on a very basic level and emphasized more towards my game but Covid-19 changed it all. I could observe a huge transformation in my game after following fitness goals and my game has developed a lot ever since.
Do you work with a specific nutritionist to develop your diet plans? If so, could you share their name and the role they play in your overall performance? Could you provide insights into the key elements of your diet plan and how it supports your performance?
I have been working with Dr Shama, she is a nutritionist from our training center, Prakash Padukone Training Academy. There were no specific diet plans and stringent diet charts provided by her though she recommended that I include more carbs, proteins and fiber in my meal along with my basic meal of dal, rice and chapati to enhance my body strength and stamina for the game.
Scoring a stunning victory over world #22 Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus in the pre-quarters must have been a remarkable moment for you. How did you manage to stay focused and overcome the challenges posed by such a highly ranked player?
During the first match I was quite confound as his strokes were really quick and the game progressed quite swiftly though I channelized my energy and focus towards performing to the best of my capabilities rather than worrying about the results. The more I played, my confidence escalated, and I managed to bag the victory. My focus was more towards keep the rally going and avoid providing him with any easy mistakes which could be used by my opponent in his favor.
You reached your first international final at the Orleans Masters. How did your coach help you navigate the pressure and expectations that come with reaching a major final?
My coach, Mr. Sagar Chopda was quite supportive throughout my tournaments and encouraged me to focus on my games and keep playing match after match instead of the final result. His support was quite instrumental as these tournaments can sometimes take a lot of mental toll and the constant encouragement and motivation is of great help during such times.
In January, you had notable performances at the Syed Modi International Super 300 championship and the Odisha Super 100. How does it feel to land a bronze medal in such a highly qualified tournament? How did these experiences contribute to your growth as a player?
It feels phenomenal to be winning such prestigious awards and being recognized for my performance after such struggles. Till 2021 my performance was going on a basic level in All India Matches but since last January things changed. Playing all these matches helped me Win four All India titles including the All India Senior Ranking Badminton tournament in December. It helped me build upon my confidence and enhance my performance with every match and being recognized for them. I believe coming this far without giving up has made me achieve all I have today and keep my game going.
Competing at the international level involves facing opponents from diverse backgrounds and playing styles. How do you adapt your game plan to match different challenges posed by your opponents?
We are acquainted with their games as we have been playing with them since a while so we are aware of their game and their playing style. Also we observe their previous games on Youtube to understand their strategies and their key points as well as drawbacks to have an edge over our competitors. Moreover, our coach also keeps on providing us with key points which are quite useful to us.
Switching mentors can sometimes bring about changes in training methods and strategies. How has the transition from being mentored by Young Soung and Vimal Kumar to Sagar Chopda influenced your game and training approach?
So the training patterns of Koreans are quite different I believe. My previous coach Young Soung emphasized to us to keep playing even after gym and just keep on going. The pattern of Sagar bhaiya is a bit different as he plans a schedule for us a week before with gym, playing on court and likewise. Young Soung was quite stringent whereas Sagar Bhaiya is more easy going. Earlier also Sagar bhaiya was there with Young Soung but now Sagar Chopda is leading us.
What is your weekly schedule and how are your weekends like?
Monday, Wednesday and Friday involves morning playing and in evening Gym whereas Tuesdays and Thursdays are on court fitness and playing the sport. Saturdays involve stroke practice and some fun games whereas Sundays are for resting.
In the badminton world, rankings play a crucial role. How do you plan to build on your current world 39 ranking to climb higher in the international circuit? Are there any specific tournaments or achievements you are aiming for?
I intend to keep on focusing on my game and enhancing my skills. Not just focus on the rank but other aspects as well. I am keen on playing in tournaments which will help me build upon my rank while also carving a name for myself in this sport and perform well. I am looking forward to playing Super 500 and Super 750 tournaments.
Do you have any role models in the industry to look up to? Moreover, do you have any sponsors?
The players I look up to are Lin Dan. Yonex and Techeon are sponsoring my international tournaments.