Ajay Jayaram rues lack of support for players returning from injury

Ajay Jayaram reached the semi-finals of the Spain Masters last week
Ajay Jayaram reached the semi-finals of the Spain Masters last week

What's the story?

Indian badminton player Ajay Jayaram is ruing the lack of support received by players who are returning from an injury layoff.

In case you didn't know

Ajay Jayaram, one of India's top badminton players, has had a career riddled with injuries. He was ranked as high as No. 13 in the world in 2017, but injuries post that and the lack of tournament play has resulted in his ranking plummeting to outside the top 60 in the world.

Last week at the Barcelona Spain Masters, he had come up with a creditable performance by reaching the semi-finals of the Super 300 event. He had even defeated Indian badminton star Kidambi Srikanth en-route to the semi-finals.

Heart of the matter

Indian badminton player Ajay Jayaram has lamented the lack of support received by players who are returning from an injury layoff. On reaching the semi-finals of the Barcelona Spain Masters last week, he was congratulated by the media handle of the Badminton Association of India (BAI). But he retorted back stating that he could do better if given proper support.

In a recent interview, after having returned to India post his successful run at the Spain Masters, he explained the rationale behind the tweet.

"The last two years have been a struggle in terms of arranging funds. I was injured in 2017 when I was in the top 20. I had to take a 7-8 month break. It has been pretty hard in that sense. If you are in the top 20 and then you have an injury, you feel if you had some kind of support would have been good"

Ajay elaborated that he is not upset with BAI and understands their predicament but hoped that a top 20 player returning from injury should be given enough chances to prove their mettle.

The lack of financial support has hit him hard and the costs incurred for participating in these tournaments is exhausting his savings.

Ajay has battled injuries throughout his career and it has not allowed him to get a consistent run on the badminton circuit.

"I was injured in 2014 and came back strong. Yeah, in the last one or two years it has been a little harder. When I came back in 2018 (from an injury) I kind of played well. I got back into the top 50 but again I was out for 4-5 months due to injury."

He expressed happiness at being injury-free since last year. He believes that he has found his erstwhile form since the end of last year and hopes to continue with the same momentum in the upcoming tournaments.

He signed off by stating that he is not too bothered by the lack of media attention on him and simply wants to enjoy playing and competing.

"I love the sport so much that I do not mind that the likes of Srikanth, Kashyap or Praneet or the others have been in the media of late. At this point in my career, I am enjoying playing, I am enjoying competing"

What's next?

It is a Catch-22 situation for the Badminton Association of India especially with this being an Olympic year. Although they would like to fund each and every player as much as possible, their main focus would be on the players who are on the cusp of qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Keeping the financial constraints in mind, it might be difficult for them to sponsor all the players but certain exceptions might have to be made for proven performers like Ajay.

We certainly hope that Ajay continues to perform with the same zeal in the upcoming tournaments and keeps the Indian flag flying high.

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Edited by Habil Ahmed Sherule
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