Kashyap PARUPALLI biography
Parupalli Kashyap's badminton career is a story of perseverance, of straining ever sinew in order to extract the maximum possible reward.
At the age of 14, the shutter was was diagnosed with asthma and bouts of dizziness and disorientation affected him on court.
However, as he put it years later, it was ‘not a condition that stops you from living life.’ He lived that up by not only winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal but also reaching the men’s quarter-finals at the Olympics - both significant moments in the history of Indian badminton.
Brought up in Hyderabad, a city that seems to operate an assembly line of top badminton players, Parupalli Kashyap trained under both former All England champions Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand, the latter eventually becoming his full-time coach.
His first taste of major success came at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where, incidentally, he was disallowed his regular medication due to a technical rule. Though the Indian badminton star went down in the semi-finals to England’s Rajiv Ouseph, he beat former national champion Chetan Anand and won the bronze medal, his first major international medal. Over the next few years, he would go on to add more trophies in his cabinet.
The first of these came at the 2012 Olympics in London. The Indian shuttler advanced through the group stage with back-to-back victories over Belgium’s Yuhan Tan and Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Minh to top his group and then got the better of Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne in the Round of 16.
Parupalli Kashyap had made it to the quarter-finals, making him the first male Indian badminton player to do so.
He, however, fell at that stage to eventual silver medallist Lee Chong Wei, but not before a gruelling duel. Kashyap was in fact leading 11-8 at the interval in the first game before the Malaysian fought back to trail 18-19 and turned it around to close the game in his favour. The Indian shuttler went down in the second game as well but he left the Wembley Arena with his head held high.
“I have learnt a lot of things from the Olympics,” he said. “Before the Olympics, I did not have big expectations. I was an underdog but after the first round, I felt I can win a medal here. I can beat anyone on my day.”
Parupalli Kashyap reached his career best world ranking of sixth in 2013 but a slew of injuries saw his form taper off gradually but he managed to arrest the slide just ahead of the Commonwealth Games, where he would write history again.
Four years after his loss to Rajiv Ouseph, he made amends to upstage the Englishman in the semi-finals and then dug deep against Derek Wong in the final to nab gold. It was the first time in 32 years that an Indian badminton player had won Commonwealth gold.
In recent years, Parupalli Kashyap has had to witness other Indian badminton players surge ahead of him, owing to multiple injuries causing stops and starts. It was a knee injury which put him out of the 2016 Olympics race.
In 2018, Parupalli Kashyap married fellow shuttler Saina Nehwal and the husband-wife duo are looking to make it to the Tokyo Olympics 2021. Often on the sidelines during Sania Nehwal’s matches, Kashyap is present not only as a supportive spouse but also as a coach in an effort to help her scale greater heights.
Indian badminton has gone through what can safely be termed a revolution with many world-class players emerging in recent years and Parupalli Kashyap has been a key part of it.