There was no stopping Parupalli Kashyap at the 77th National Championships. After a tentative start in the team event, Kashyap hit cruise mode in the open category, winning the men’s singles title without losing a game. Excerpts from a conversation with Dev S Sukumar:
Your thoughts on winning the national championship?
It means a lot. It was one of my childhood dreams. I’ve always wanted to win the national title. I missed it last year because I was playing international events.
Having made some big strides on the international circuit, does the national title
make a difference to your career?
I guess not. No one is worried about whether you’ve won the national title. Winning an international event is more challenging. The national title is personal. Many people had said it was a title I had not won. Being national champion sounds good, but the only thing that matters is your international success.
Did you feel any pressure to prove that you’re the best in the country?
I’ve proved it over and over again that I’m the best in the country. I did well at the Olympics. But I didn’t play at the nationals with the mindset to prove anything. I was rusty in the beginning. The men’s singles in India has 10-12 very good players. The competition is tough and there’s a lot of pressure.
Did you carry the confidence of your victory over Chen Long into the nationals?
I was carrying that confidence. In China (China Masters) I lost to Guru (Sai Dutt) in the second round, and I was under pressure. In Indian conditions, people expect me to win easy. I have been doing well under pressure. Everyone is talented. There are 10-12 of us, and each of us has our own strengths. Apart from Guru, there is Sameer, Sourabh, Prannoy, Srikanth… we’ve been working very hard.
I’ve been confident since the Olympics. I didn’t have time to train for China and Japan, but I beat Gao Huan in the first round of the China Masters. It was a tough match because he’s a good player. I have to continuously reach the semifinals and finals of major events.
I want to win a Superseries.
How has it been on the sponsorship front after the Olympics?
I’m looking for sponsors. Sports management companies should come forward. The IBL (Indian Badminton League) will be a good event, but it depends on how they format it. Hopefully there will be enough opportunities for all the players in a team.