August - September 2012 >3
I was so close
Your most memorable match this year:
It would have to be against Kenichi Tago in the first round of the China Masters. I played an almost error-free game and that win paved the way for me to reach the semifinals. I hit so many smashes in that match, I almost injured my abdomen!
Lin Dan in one sentence:
Roger Federer Tenniss Lin Dan!!!
Your dream match would be:
My dream match would be playing the finals of the Olympics, World Championships or the All England. I dont think Id really care against who it would be.
The one place youd love to visit:
Vegas! Because I enjoy the occasional thrill of the casino!
If you hadnt been a badminton player, you wouldve been --
Im pretty sure Id be an engineer and/or an MBA graduate. Being from a middle class south Indian family, Im not sure there are that many options :)
The friendliest player on the international circuit:
Derek Wong, Singapore.
Your favourite way of countering jet-lag:
I wish I knew the way to counter it effectively... I struggle quite a bit, especially when traveling to countries that are ahead of Indian time. But what I do is try and stick to the routine bed time and not sleep at odd hours.
The semifinal against Hu Yun at the China Masters:
I definitely think I could have won that semifinal against Hu Yun. It was very disappointing to lose at that stage when I knew I was so close to playing the final. All I wanted after the match was to have that chance again. Hopefully Ill get it soon in the coming tournaments.
Working with (coach) Tom John:
Tom John has been like a saviour for me. A couple of years ago I was well behind in the rankings, and struggling to string in good results. Tom literally picked me up and put me back on track. Training with him isnt easy as he always looks for perfection and shouts at you a lot. But then he manages to get the best out of you and that has brought me a lot of good results. I owe him a great deal for where I am today.
Your kind of music:
I listen to rock, pop, Bollywood. My favourite singer is Shankar Mahadevan, and my favourite rock band is Nirvana.
Tushar Karani, a maker of chocolates in Hyderabad, is an angry man. His elder daughter, he says, gave up playing competitive badminton because she was constantly facing opponents aged way over their real age categories. Now his younger daughter too is facing the same problems, and Karani is determined to fight it out.
The overage problem may not be unique to India badminton, but it is perhaps the biggest threat to sports in the country. The abuse involves parents fudging the date of birth of their children, enabling them to play in lower age categories, and denying true competitors a fair chance of winning their age-category titles. Most of these cheats tend to fade out by the time they reach the senior category, but by then the damage is done.
Unlike other parents who complain and do little about the issue, Karani is trying to establish a parents body that will lobby for stricter measures from Badminton Association of India.
Its a big problem, says Karani. At the moment, if I have to register a complaint, I have to pay Rs 5000 to BAI, but it will be a long time before the issue is resolved. Why should I have to pay money to prove that a player is overage? The BAI should have a system in place to prevent overage abuse.
I heard that at RSC,Cochin tournament protests have been lodged on few players paying Rs.5000 each to BAI. Many months have gone by and those players are still playing and enjoying.
Karani started his efforts to put together an organizination during the Union Bank All India Sub-Junior Ranking tournament at KBA, Bangalore. He says several parents have come forward, and he has collected about 20 signatures so far.
In theory, it should be fairly simple to stamp out this menace. The state associations should be responsible for verifying documents when the child is first registered as a state player, and both the child and the coach should be penalized if there is any violation. The BAI will have to regard itself seriously on these issues, and not just seek attention when a player wins an international medal.
Ajay JayaramAjay Jayaram, the second-highest ranked Indian at No.27, is a quiet and unassuming player. A stylish, strokeful player who has logged some impressive results over the last year, Jayaram is a thoughtful and articulate sort. A semifinal performance at the recent China Masters is a signpost of the progress hes made. He answers this light quiz from Dev S Sukumar:
still haunts junior events Overage menace
Who will bell the cat?
Business Head for sports major Li-Ning in India, says the companys monthly turnover tripled after Saina won the Olympic bronze. Badminton is now one of the major sports in India, he says. Weve seen a decline in the sales of cricket and football equipment. I think people have had an overdose of cricket. Saina winning the bronze has made a big difference.
Even before the bronze, the increase in interest was evident. Pullela Gopichand talked of how he was getting around 30 emails a day enquiring about admission at his academy. There is massive interest in badminton now, but we just dont have the courts to accommodate them, he said. Imagine if one academy like ours can produce around ten top quality players, what it would be like if there were more academies across the country?
Former Indian Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar, who runs a seven-court academy at Pune, confirms the view that the Indian performance at the Olympics has made a big difference not just to badminton, but all sports. There has definitely been a rise in people seeking to take up badminton, he says. More girls are likely to think of badminton as a career. When Saina came to
Saina Nehwals Olympic bronze seems to have propelled a resurgence of interest in badminton at the grassroots level. Coaches all over the country are reporting a massive increase in interest in children opting for the game so much so that the existing infrastructure is proving to be inadequate to accommodate them.
One measure of the upsurge in interest was at the Union Bank All India Junior Ranking Tournament which was held at Bangalore immediately after the Olympics. The tournament, held for the under-13 and under-15 categories, has seen a dizzying 1100 entries in eight events. The qualifying rounds constituted a mini-tournament in itself, comprising of 700 matches over two days.
There has been overwhelming response, concedes Vimal Kumar, Sainas bronze medal has made a big difference to badminton. Parents are willing to initiate their children to badminton. We are seeing a sudden surge in youngsters taking up badminton. There are lots of enquiries pouring in for admission to badminton courts. I would say badminton is in a healthy state right now.
Equipment companies couldnt be happier at the state of the game now. Ram Malhotra,
Pune for a felicitation recently, there was a traffic jam on the road. I see an increase in the numbers at the junior level. When we get the quantity, we will get the quality as well.
Sainas victory has attracted sponsors to badminton, says international coach Tom John. Media is giving more space to badminton and a lot of money has come into the sport after this one Olympics bronze. Parents now believe that badminton can be taken up as a career. In India badminton was on a high in the last few years and badminton academies are running full. If you can deliver quality training there is no shortage of players. Indian badminton is marching on in the right direction. There are around 15 players in the top 50. With the exception of China, no other country can claim these kind of numbers.
Sainas bronze propelsIndian junior badminton
: Q1. Who won the Olympics Badminton Men's Singles Gold a) Lee Chow Wei b) Lin Dan c) Chen Long
Q2. Who won the Olympics Badminton Women's Singles Gold a) Saina Nehwal b) Yihan Wang c) Li Xueruib)
1 each for the 2 winners-2 Nos
1 each for the 5 winners-5 Nos
1 each for the 3 winners-3 Nos
Antony FernandoNiharika Saini
Santosh Udipi, Lakshmi Chenicheri Sreesh Waghray
Shivani A Pathi, Nabha Pai Naveen V.P., Sangram Patil
>5August - September 2012
On winning the medal:
I still cant believe that I got a medal, because its unbelievable that an Indian can get an Olympic medal. But we worked so hard Gopi Sir worked so hard, and my parents and all my well-wishers there in India. Its great. Im so happy that I could do this for my country and I came here to get a medal for India. Im happy that Im going back with a bronze medal for India. Its a great feeling.
The match against Wang Xin:
I think todays match was crucial I was still thinking of yesterdays match. I thought I couldve pulled out yesterdays match. It was still playing on my mind. I came back from 14-20 to 18-20. She was getting tired. I thought she took a break, but I didnt know she was injured. I was confident I was coming back strong and she was getting tired. It was unfortunate that she got injured.
When I was 11-6 up, I could feel she was almost on her knees. She was asking for water breaks, and for mopping the court. I thought she fell down to take a break. It was sad to know she got injured.
Expectations and pressure:
I was scared because after I won in Thailand and Indonesia, there were many expectations.