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#TFGinterview: A shuttler on court, an artist off it -- In conversation with Ajay Jayaram

  • By Siju
  • twitter
  • May 19, 2017

THE FIRST few minutes went in searching for a quite place where the interview could be recorded. And finally at the decision was made that the community hall in Chembur Gymkhana is the appropriate one.

Then the conversation began with the highest ranked men's singles shuttler Ajay Jayaram who opened up about how ecstatic he is at the moment about his recent achievement.

"The key to this, I would say has been the consistent results over the past one year. I've had tasted success in the past but it was all quite spread out. Like there has been one Dutch Open which I failed to defend and then missed out on the Korea Open title. This went on till about 5-6 months and kept me quite far but I think that's what has changed in the recent past. Being ranked 13th definitely feels good but I still want that big win and I guess that's what will help me break into the top 10 which is the immediate target now."

Now we've seen that most of the shuttlers, juniors and seniors alike have emerged out of the Gopichand academy in Hyderabad. Most of them have left their respective hometown and adopted Hyderabad as their city for their training purposes. But that wasn't the case with Ajay, he started of training at Prakash Padukone academy in Bengaluru and at present trains in Bombay itself under coach Tom John. He explains in detail about the same,

"For close to 8-9 years I was training in Bangalore so initially when I was 18 I guess, chose to train at the Prakash Padukone academy and kind of stuck on there for about 4-5 years. And then I happened to meet my present coach Tom John. He has in way integrated himself into the Indian badminton circuit in one way or the other. I first came to the Gopichand academy in 2005 where I learnt about him and then in 2010 he came to Bangalore for a small stint because he is pretty close to Vimal sir."

"During that period he was coaching the Portugal team and so he asked me to train there for a couple of months and he also helped me find some club in Europe which could help me train more and that could help in improving my ranking because at that time I was quite struggling with my performance. Moving there was a good decision as he has a great way of training and as I started giving my best it reflected on my ranking cause in just three-four months I was in top 30 from 80s and 90s."

"He helped find a French Club which was a good boost for me as it took care of my funds and stuff. And then he moved to India where he was in Lucknow for a while and then opened an academy of his own in Bangalore. So throughout I've just been with him. At the moment I've just moved to Bombay, it's just that I've been far for a very long time and I guess it is working so let's see how it goes."

Last month the Indian badminton fraternity was left in shock after the sudden death of Akhilesh Das Gupta who served as the President of BAI. He was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sarma who held a badminton conclave soon after his appointment. He spoke to the players, coaches and those that worked in the federation separately. Ajay Jayaram too was part of the conclave, sharing his thoughts about it and some insights as to what took shape in the conclave, he said,

"The first thing when I heard about the conclave happening, I was quite happy and surprised actually. Never before a President who has just been appointed and wanting to talk to the players as he takes up the job so that was quite encouraging. It was a good thing because he was there with an open mind, listening to our problems, suggestions so therefore it felt like a positive start. There were a quite lot of ideas and I guess couple of them have already begun to take shape. One of it was that we have received our prize money which was pending for a very long time. He also said that he is looking to expand a lot of centres across the country instead of it being one area. So I think whatever was talked about if implemented then it will be really good for Indian badminton."

Fans are aware of the artistic side of Ajay as he as posted a series of his sketches on social media. Talking about he went about it, with a big smile on his face, he said,

"It was sometime last year when I actually started to concentrate more on it. I knew I was decent at it because I had made a couple of portraits years back."

He is a self taught artist,

"I didn't study for it or anything. I mean even now my technique in certain things is flawed. I always wanted to get into sketching in the past few years but never really put that effort of putting the pencil to the paper. Somewhere last year, when I was in US after I played the tournament I was at my cousins place. My niece one day got me the sketch I had made years back of her and when I looked at it, I was quite impressed with myself (laughs). And then I had lot of time at hand as players after training and playing tournaments you get some time for yourself. So I then decided that instead of probably going out and watching TV in my free time, let's sketch."

"And then I was like whose portrait should I begin with, so I decided to make my favourite actor Jack Nicholson's image. And it came out pretty good so then I tried something different. I stepped up my own game. Tried my hands at doing 3D art and stuff like that. So it's been a fun ride."

He wants to take sketching to another level and stated that if one can make passion work then there's nothing like it.

The conversation was not all about serious and technical things but also indulged in a fun and quick fire round.

Towards the end he was thrown few words at and asked to reply what first came to his mind. He also speaks about his PBL experience and prefers Mumbai Rockets over Delhi Acers. Listen to it all below:

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