An almost non-existent right hand did not prevent 12-year-old Ayush Rajoria from being noticed by former All England champion Pullela Gopi Chand.
Ayush was quietly going through the final selection trials (age group 9-12 years) for the Madhya Pradesh State Badminton Academy, unmindful that Gopi Chand, who is here to conduct the trials, was watching from the sidelines.
"The boy is talented and enthusiastic," the star shuttler told HT on Wednesday. "It will be difficult to train Ayush as both hands play a vital role in badminton, but it's not an impossible task. He can be a good shuttler if given proper attention. He can also prove handy in events for the specially-abled," said Gopi Chand.
It is uncertain if Ayush would be selected to the state academy as the list is likely to be announced after a week, but the boy has certainly grabbed Gopi Chand's attention.
Despite being born with a deformed right hand, Ayush has never allowed the disability to come in the way of his passion for sports.
A student of class VIII in Bhopal's Campion School, he has excelled in pole vault and sprint too. Ayush also plays cricket and basketball but badminton is where the heart lies.
Realising the potential, his parents put him in a summer camp, organised by the state sports department, this year so that he could learn the sport from experienced coaches.
"My other two children are physically fit but Ayush is different. Even the doctors could not detect the reason for the deformity at the time of birth," said his father, Vinod Kumar Rajoria, a school principal.
To overcome the odds Ayush even tried out an artificial limb for some time but decided to manage without it as it felt uncomfortable.