49-year-old and smashing stereotypes: Pune’s ‘senior’ badminton player who’ll give you a good run for your money

Playing in the men’s doubles event at the Inter-corporate badminton championship at Silver Club, Wakad, organised by Sportfit crest and wellness private limited, 49-year-old Ravi Sarangapani has proven that age is indeed just a number as he has demonstrated the fitness and agility of players almost half his age.

pune Updated: Aug 13, 2018 16:42 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,shuttler,corporate
Ravi Sarangapani playing at the Corporate shuttlers Pune badminton championship 2018 at Silver sports club, Wakad, on Saturday.(HT PHOTO)

Typically, the career of a badminton player spans up to the age of 30. At that point in their life, shuttlers feel the need to take it easy and thus, tend to forego singles competitions and usually participate in doubles events. Having played the sport for a decade and a half, numerous professional athletes feel that 30 is the magic number to call it a day from the individual game. However, the case is slightly different for Pune’s 49-year-old Ravi Sarangapani, who is currently working for Smith and Nephew healthcare private limited.

Ravi Sarangapani. (HT PHOTO)

Playing in the men’s doubles event at the Inter-corporate badminton championship at Silver Club, Wakad, organised by Sportfit crest and wellness private limited, the veteran has proven that age is indeed just a number as he has demonstrated the fitness and agility of players almost half his age.

However, it isn’t that he’s been playing badminton all his life, and enjoys the sport only as a recreational activity. In fact, he took to the sport only six years ago and is now enjoying every minute of the game when he steps onto the court.

Explaining how he took up the sport, he said, “In 2010, because of my work, I had to travel to a place near Ratnagiri twice every month for almost a week’s time. There, a bunch of my colleagues had a badminton group of their own, and kept mocking me for waking up late in the morning. So I decided to start playing with them and this is how I got glued to the game.”

Taking up a new sport at 43 was going to be anything, but a smooth ride and that’s just what happened when he first stepped on to the court. He couldn’t even hold the racket properly and was nowhere close to the level that his colleagues were at. Thus, he made up his mind to bring about a change in his game.

“The thing with me is that whatever I do, I want to be good at it. So, I went over to the Nikhil Kanetkar badminton academy (NKBA) in Pune as I had heard a lot about it and started training there. This gave me inroads to the sport and I polished my game and started practicing with my colleagues.”

Sarangapani then spoke about the physical challenges and limitations he faced en route to becoming a player who could compete in tournaments at a high level. Battling injuries was only one of his concerns, but he also believed in himself and had the mental fortitude that kept him going.

“I’ve had many bouts with injuries. In fact, I have pulled every muscle there is to pull. What helped me is that I have an understanding of orthopaedics and biometrics, because it’s my field of work. So I have a basic know-how about the human body, which helps me extent my limits.”

He also spoke about the hurdles he came across while having to compete with younger players and gave a simple response on how to deal with it. “The best thing to do is not think about it,” he said.

“The more you think about it, the more you realise you’re at a disadvantage. I know someone younger will have the upper hand, but that should not stop me from giving my best. Also, there are age groups that help, and we managed to beat a pair that were 14-15 years younger to me in the quarters,” Sarangapani added.

Even though he could never play the sport on a professional level, Sarangapani has no regrets about his badminton career. He has played in a number of tournaments and despite not getting his hands on a single piece of silverware, he expects to continue participating in such tournaments and testing his mettle against the city’s finest.

First Published: Aug 13, 2018 16:36 IST