When P Kashyap was taking baby steps in the world of badminton, he was a skinny, sickly kid suffering from asthma. Looking at his frail physique no one would have bet on him to make it big.
But he has, fighting against the odds, proving his detractors wrong. Today, Kashyap is world No 14 and shoulders the nation’s responsibility, as far as the men’s singles are concerned, at most of the premier events.
“Hard work,” he keeps it short and sweet, as he explains his climb in the tough world of badminton dominated by the Chinese.
Last year has been one of his best on the circuit, which saw him reach a career-best rank of six in April. The run started at the London Olympics, a quarterfinal appearance made him the first Indian to do so. That catapulted his confidence. It continued with good results in Superseries events.
“I’m more confident now. I feel I can take on the top players consistently. I’m no longer afraid,” says Kashyap, who plays for the Banga Beats. He has consistently beaten some higher ranked players this season to prove it’s not a fluke and he is finally part of the ‘Big League’. So what has changed for the Hyderabadi at the age of 26?
“I’m more focused now in all aspects - whether it’s training, diet, my tournament schedule,” he says. “I don’t see myself as supremely talented. For me it’s very necessary to train hard as possible to attain the level I’ve reached today. I’ve been always training hard but everything has come together very well this season.”
More time to train
Previously, he was jumping from one tournament to another week-after-week. Nowadays, he is getting more time to train. With his higher ranking, he can concentrate on Superseries and train longer. That doesn’t mean he is going to skip the Grand Prix Gold tournaments henceforth. “I would have to keeping playing those tournaments to keep the winning momentum going.”
Although he is enjoying his best season, he is not the one to rest on his laurels. In fact, he isn’t satisfied with his performance. He wants to “attain perfection” and he can go to “any length to achieve it”.
“I should have won against Du Pengyu (the Chinese who beat him in the quarterfinals of the World Championships). I missed an opportunity to enter the semis, that too by beating a Chinese on his home soil,” he says, still sounding disappointed about that loss.
Kashyap had taken the first game and was close to sealing it in straight games before Pengyu won it in three games.
“I want to iron out the chinks in my game to keep competing at the top level. (Because) a mistake and you are out.”
He has done the hard work, got over his frailties and now it’s time for him to cash on it.