CWG gold-medallist sets his targets on upcoming World Championships and Asian Games
Parupalli Kashyap ended India's 32-year wait to win a gold medal in the men's singles at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Sunday.
Parupalli Kashyap attempts a smash during the Commonwealth Games final last Sunday
The Arjuna awardee and the only Indian shuttler to reach the quarterfinals at the Olympics, opens up to mid-day about the struggles he endured in his quest for glory and the challenges that lie ahead.
Q. Has the feeling of winning the gold medal sunk in yet?
A. The medal means a lot to me. When I was told that I had won gold after a gap of 32 years for India, it made me feel extra special, not just for myself but everybody around me — especially my parents and my coach Pullela Gopichand. I am extremely happy. I never doubted myself. I knew if I stayed confident I would get good results. With so many felicitation ceremonies happening, I am aware of what I have achieved, but there are other important tournaments coming up, so there is no time to celebrate just yet.
Q. Who do you dedicate the medal to?
A. There are a lot of people who have played a huge role in making me what I am today — my parents, Gopichand sir, my trainers, my coaches at the academy and the whole Indian contingent who gave me the confidence that I could do well. But, if I have to dedicate it, it would be to my parents and coach.
Q. You lost to England's Rajiv Ouseph in the team championship but won in the singles. What was the difference?
A. I went with the same mindset for both matches. In the team event, I made some mistakes and was unable to execute the strategy we had devised to counter Rajiv. That's why I lost. In the singles competition, I sat down and identified where I went wrong in the team championship. I made sure I did not repeat them and that is what worked for me.
He shows off his gold medal. Pic/Getty Images
Q. What events will you be competing in, in the run-up to the Asian Games?
A. Right now my focus is to concentrate and work hard for the Badminton World Championships (August 25-31 in Copenhagen, Denmark). I need to be fit for that tournament, as I want to better my performance there. Last year, I lost to third-seed Pengyu Du of China in the quarterfinals in a close contest (the score-line was 21-16, 20-22, 15-21).
Q. The Chinese contingent will participate in the Asian Games and so will Malaysia's World No 1 Lee Chong Wei. How different will the challenge be compared to CWG?
A. The Asian Games is definitely tougher than the Commonwealth Games. But it depends on how one handles pressure. I knew that I would play in all the three prestigious tournaments — CWG, World Championships and the Asian Games. It is going to be tough both mentally and physically. So it is very important I keep myself fit. There is pressure to perform. But I am prepared for it and have been working on it for more than a year. Also, luck plays a huge role.
Q. You injured your right shoulder earlier this year. What precautions are you taking?
A. I had a shoulder subluxation (the muscles in the shoulder region become weak). That's the reason I need to strap my right shoulder whenever I play. I also need to do some extra rehab exercises. The straps are not a hindrance in any way. I am absolutely fine now. Once I gain confidence and my muscles become strong I will start playing without the straps.
Q. What kept you motivated when there was a dip in form and your rankings dropped from World No 6 to 20?
A. There are a lot of talented players coming up every day. I had my own share of personal problems to overcome — be it my sister's tragic death (in 2011), my asthma or my injury. At the same time, there were my professional commitments and expectations from the nation to do well. I always told myself that if you don't push yourself too hard there are many waiting there to take your place. Also, I kept doing what my coach asked me to. He made the strategies and I just executed them. I owe a lot of my success to him.
The highest rank that Kashyap has managed to attain in the BWF rankings list