Feature

Parupalli Kashyap looks beyond life as an athlete 

Fighting asthma since his teenage years, Kashyap has become one of India's most famous badminton stars

By Abhishek Nandwani ·

Coaches play a very crucial role in the development of an athlete.

In most sporting disciplines, it’s common to see coaching positions being held by former players. Be it football, cricket or tennis, several former players have gone on to coach the teams or individual athletes. The latest is Indian shuttler, Parupalli Kashyap.

Currently coaching his wife, Saina Nehwal, the 32-year-old in a recent interview admitted that he was looking forward to being a full-time coach once he hangs his racquet. However, he was quick to quash any talks of retirement and stated that he was still eyeing Tokyo 2020.

A hobby sport

Born in Guntur to Uday Shankar and Subhadra, Kashyap was only 11 when his parents enrolled him in a training camp conducted by Dronacharya awardee SM Arif. From there on, there was no looking back for Kashyap.

As a youngster, badminton was just a recreational sport for him until he realised how good he was at the sport. He soon moved to Bengaluru and started his training at the Prakash Padukone Academy, where he worked on his game for around three years.

In 2004 though, Kashyap hit a major roadblock as he was diagnosed with asthma. This was a big threat to his career as he was unable to run for long or sustain lengthy spells on the court without gasping for breath. However, the youngster never let that be an excuse and fortunately for Kashyap, his condition improved with proper medication and diet.

He then began training at the Gopichand Academy and it was Pullela Gopichand who helped Kashyap master his skills and turned him into a world-class shuttler.

The Journey

Before representing India at the international stage, Kashyap won the boys' singles title at the National Junior Open Badminton Championships, representing Andhra Pradesh. He then rose to prominence on the international stage in 2006 when he entered the top 100 of the world rankings.

But it was in 2009 that Kashyap finally made his mark. He reached the semi-final of the Dutch Open, the Singapore Super Series and the Senior National Badminton Championships. In the same year, he ended up as a runner-up at the Spanish Open, Thailand International and Toulouse Open.

In the following year, he represented India at the Commonwealth Games, where he won the bronze medal in the singles and a silver medal in the mixed team event.

Gold at Glasgow

Parupalli Kashyap celebrates after winning the Commonwealth gold medal

Kashyap wrote his name into the history books after winning the gold medal in the men’s singles at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. He cruised into the finals at Glasgow and defeated Derek Wong of Singapore.

The gold medal in the men's singles for the nation came after a wait of 32 years. Before Kashyap, only Prakash Padukone and Syed Modi had gold medals to their name in the men's singles event.

Shattered Rio Dream

After losing in the quarterfinals at London 2012, Kashyap's hopes of an Olympics medal were once again shattered at Rio 2016 after he had to go under the knife for knee surgery ahead of the event and was not able to participate.

Despite all the struggles with injuries during his career, it is thanks to his willpower that Kashyap has always made a strong comeback.

As of now, Tokyo remains a far-fetched dream, but the shuttler in the past has come good against the odds and destiny could still have something special in store for the Commonwealth Games gold medallist.