INDIAN MEN'S SINGLES SHUTTLER Parupalli Kashyap was in Mumbai for 2-3 weeks undergoing rehab for his injury and TFG caught up with him talking about everything that is Indian badminton.
When asked about his injury forcing him to miss out on an opportunity due to injuries to represent India once again at the Olympics. He replied,
"It was very disappointing. It happened in stages, October 2015 I had muscle tear in my calf in France. Back then my ranking was somewhere at 7th so qualification was not the mind but entering the top 4 was. Because last Olympics I played, lost out in the quarters against Lee Chong Wei so I wanted to avoid playing one or two big guys in the quarters."
"But the injury slowed me down but after two months, when I again started in January (2016) with PBL, I had some niggles with my knee. So the case with this is that, when you tend to injure one leg, there are chances that you put pressure on the other leg and these things happen, so probably there were some jerks."
He did make a comeback to competing at international circuit, played India Grand Prix Gold but lost out in the quarters.
"I lost out in the quarters but I played really well in that tournament. I almost got through the match and probably would have done well going ahead. But it was a decent performance considering that I wasn't in action for two-three months. But I was apprehensive with my knee since it was mandatory for me to play wearing the knee cap because without that it wasn't possible. Even the doctors and physios approved of the same so I continued."
But little did he know that the niggle he felt would lead to another injury.
"So later when I approached the doctors I learnt that the niggle I felt led me trip and fall and injure my knee. And then that was really disappointing as my ranking dropped. I still had hopes though but then I couldn't continue after playing in the first tournament."
After meeting an expert doctor in this field, Kashyap learnt that he has undergo immediate surgery and forget about Olympics. And he chose surgery over another record of playing at the Olympics.
He was indeed happy with the decision he took but deep inside he was disturbed and shattered as Olympics was everything he was looking forward for.
The next topic of discussion was a common statement that we've often see or read in Indian badminton. In the men's singles, India has number of shuttlers as compared to one or two in the women's singles category. When asked, that isn't it fair that women shuttlers are hailed or talked about because there is consistency while the men though many in numbers don't.
To which Kashyap had a fair and detailed explanation,
"No, not at all. See you are comparing yourself with generations, comparing it with 10 years back when we had no players, we only had Saina and maybe myself ranked it top 20s or 30s. I had to work hard to maintain that ranking and then moved into top 10. And after that, there were series of shuttlers like Srikanth, Ajay, Prannoy who slowly started to creep in and garner attention. Though Srikanth was the only shuttler to enter top 10 after me. He has won two Superseries titles which I don't have even after playing for so many years. I've reached seven semis and had four chances to go ahead and win but never happened. But Srikanth made sure he did that and even before Sindhu's medal he was far ahead in level than Sindhu."
"Probably after Saina's achievements, his performances in the men's singles were highest but it was not very highlighted. I guess all this things come down to the popularity factor in India because even after Srikanth won a couple of SS and Sindhu wins a GPG, she was more popular than Srikanth. I think we are competing against the cricketers that the popularity is then noticed. I don't know, there are several factors maybe."
He further added,
"After Prakash sir, Srikanth has been the top ranked men's singles shutter in India. Gopi bhaiya reached 4th, I was 6th but all of this is never spoken off and now Sindhu reaches 5, it has been the talk of the town. Being ranked 3 or 4 never comes easy or without being consistent. And to be honest, you can't compare the two categories. There's only one Saina, one Sindhu and no one is even close to these two in the upcoming slot right now, I want more and I'm sure there will be. But the fact is you can't compare the two categories and question why the men are not performing just because Saina and Sindhu have an Olympic medal. You can't take away my or Srikanth's results."
He further also pointed out that in an academy where there is only one women's singles shuttler but on the other hand many upcoming shuttlers in the men's singles, it becomes difficult for the coach to give his attention all shuttlers in the men's singles. His focus in WS, only Saina would need it so she could perform well and be consistent.
"Even after Saina left the academy, there was again just one shuttler to cater to in WS that is Sindhu which is not a tough job for Gopi. But at our level at the same time, there were 10 guys and if then you ask about our consistency we'll say that we are extremely consistent. Just look at the way Sameer is performing and all other shuttlers in fact. So there are many doing well at the same time in MS."
"And we need more coaches with special capabilities like Gopichand who can focus on the shuttlers."
He also spoke about how he would be thrilled to be part of coaching at the academy after his playing days and how he shares a rapport with Gopichand. He had positive outlook on the Premier Badminton League, talking how it is a helpful tool and exposure for the junior shuttlers.
We also have some rapid questions thrown at him to which he answers casually with a jovial mood.
To know all of these and more, catch it on our Interview Podcast. You can listen to the full conversation below:
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