Bikas Shrestha’s story comes with a twist. His father’s demise in 2004 forced him to take up badminton at the age of 17 in order to provide for his family. He studied and did menial jobs.
Suddenly, it dawned upon him that he had developed a liking for the sport and decided to drift further towards the game.
Today, the 23-year-old is the reigning national champion of Nepal and is competing in the Asian Championships.
Ranked 522 in the world, Shrestha comes from village Bhojpur in Nepal. “My father (a lawyer) was the sole earning member in the family, so I took it upon myself to support the family. I was in the process of completing my graduation when I saw some kids playing the sport. That is when the idea to play badminton hit me. But I didn’t know one day I would be this good,” said the shuttler.
Finding Sreshtha in the stadium was easy. Sitting at the far corner of the players’ seating area, he was more interested in watching world No. 5 Taufik Hidayat warming up rather than watching matches.
“These guys are so fit. You know, I haven’t played in two months after the SAFF Games. I injured my knee. And I have a match today, imagine,” said the shuttler.
Shrestha was spotted by the Police Club in 2008. Next he was playing for the club even before completing his graduation. “They found me good and inducted me. I was able to make Rs 10,000, which was hardly enough for my family,” he said.
That was when his mother came to his rescue. “My mother asked me to shift base to Kathmandu and she made use of the little land back in the village.” The shuttler plans to become a coach after he calls it a day.