The small town of Dhar in Madhya Pradesh is now bustling with badminton activity after local shuttlers excelled in major international tournaments recently.Around 300 km from Bhopal, the city has turned out to be a feeder for the top badminton academies of the country and came into lime-light when Sourabh Verma reached the quarters of the India Open Super Series and Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold events this year. Abhimanyu Singh is another prominent player who hails from Dhar.
In the Asian Junior Badminton Championship which will be held in Lucknow next month, two shuttlers have been named in the Indian squad - Sameer Verma, India's No. 1 junior player and Sourabh's younger brother, and Pratul Joshi.
"As Dhar is situated at high altitude, its shuttlers have an edge over others residing at sea level due to better lung capacity that plays vital role in badminton," said national coach Pullela Gopi Chand.
Gopi Chand, who is chief coach-cum-technical advisor of Madhya Pradesh State Badminton Academy, had selected 39 players for training last year for the academy and 20 of them hail from Dhar.
Sameer, who was at the SAI Training Centre, later shifted to the Gopi Chand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad with his brother, after being picked up for MP State Academy following trials last June.
"I reached the second round in Junior Asian Championship last year. I am hopeful of improving my past performance this year," Sameer told HT over telephone.