Fitness, funding aside, Parupalli Kashyap shuffles between play-pause

Indian badminton player Parupalli Kashyap in action. Photo: PTI

Parupalli Kashyap, the 33-year-old shuttler who on Saturday (September 28) lost to World No.1 Kento Momota in the Korea Open semifinals, dreams of winning a Superseries title. Despite playing eight Superseries semifinals, Kashyap hasn’t been able to clinch a gold as yet.

In an exclusive conversation with The Federal from Incheon, Korea, Kashyap stressed on how he needs to keep up his fitness level to win titles.

Awarded Arjuna Award in 2012, the shuttler admitted that despite being good technically, he lacks the physical fitness to win a superseries.

“My observation is that after 3-4 days of decent matches in a tournament, I start losing semifinals or quarterfinals. This is the third time this year. I had lost India Open and Canada Open earlier in the semis and final respectively. So, for me, all that matters now, is to work on my fitness levels to win a Superseries title,” Kashyap said.

The Hyderabad shuttler’s career has been marred by injuries, niggles and other physical issues regardless of which he has been giving a tough fight to the world-class players.

On losing to Momota, he said, “Beating World No. 1 Momota would have been a morale booster for me. But, I hadn’t played Momota in the last four years and to make an impact on the international circuits, it’s important to play the opponents earlier. Momota was better than me in every aspect.”

In the past three years, injury-ridden Kashyap could play very few tournaments internationally. Due to health issues and low-ranking Kashyap, has also been travelling on his own expenses.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) provides travel and accommodation allowances to players if they come within top 25 ranks in the world. Kashyap was ranked World No. 30 as of October 1.

“Fortunately, the Telangana government has been financially supporting me with ₹55 lakh per year. Despite not being in the Indian team, I have been practising in the Gopichand Badminton Academy. Thanks to Gopi (sir),” he expressed gratefully.

On Wednesday (October 2), four days after he gave this interview, Kashyap was ranked No. 25.

Despite all these issues, Kashyap wants to work towards achieving his dreams.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist asserted that he wanted to work on fixing his flaws, fitness-wise. “I believe in my skill, I trust that I still have a lot of game left in me. My aim is to win a Superseries tournament.”

The world Badminton rankings are now dominated by Kento Momota and Chou Tien Chen being World No.1 and No. 2 respectively from Japan and Taiwan.

Speaking about how Indian badminton players differ from the Chinese and Japnese, Kashyap said that they play as a team whereas only three players from India have the backing of the government or a national body.

“I personally feel we lag because there is not much support from the national body. The development can happen when the system is well organised,” Kashyap says, before signing off.