“You will never see a shuttler of Indian origin donning Malaysian colours,” said Raj Veeran, a Malaysian-turned-Australian, in a firm voice. It’s a sweeping statement, but the 24-year-old, who has roots in India, doesn’t believe in mincing words.
“It’s not about the quality of Indian shuttlers. It’s something else. My younger sister, Renuga, and I moved to Australia in 2003 to pursue higher studies and became citizens a few months back,” said Veeran, who is here with Renuga to participate in the India Open Grand Prix. Seeded second here, the siblings are ranked No. 1 in mixed doubles in Australia.
“I don’t want to stir a controversy but I could see that something wasn’t right with my elder, Kavitha, a top-notch badminton player. She never got a chance to represent the country.
“Discrimination or not, it played a huge role in my decision to move to Australia.” An accountant by profession, Veeran takes pride in having represented Australia at the Thomas Cup finals in May. “Playing for a different country and that too in Malaysia felt good.”
Son of a state-level player in Malaysia, Vithi, Veeran took to badminton at the age of six. “Seeing my father play, I developed a liking for the sport. Kavitha used to play alongside former world No. 1 doubles player Wong Pei Tty,” said Veeran.
Their mother, Sarojai, who also doubles up as their manager, when asked if her kids ever complained about discrimination, said, “It’s a sensitive issue and we couldn’t do anything about it. There have been a few incidents I would not like to mention. All I want is that my kids do well in whatever they follow. We as parents are ready to extend whole-hearted support.”
Both the shuttlers want to put their past behind, “Malaysia has still given us a lot. I am friends with Lee-Chong Wei (world No. 2 in men’s singles). Renuga represented Malaysia in the World Juniors in 2003. I still have a long way ahead and I want to thanks Malaysia for whatever it could teach me,” he said.