Commonwealth Games 2018: India’s badminton gold is a result of putting up a system in place, says Parupalli Kashyap
The Commonwealth Games has been a very special event in Parupalli Kashyap’s career. The former sixth-ranked shuttler’s resume is embellished with a prized gold medal that he earned in men’s singles at the Glasgow Games 32 years after Syed Modi last won it for India in 1982.
Not only that, the 31-year-old has also been a part of the silver medal-winning team from the 2010 Delhi Games, where he went on to win a bronze in men’s singles as well.
After two injury-ridden seasons, Kashyap wasn’t a part of the contingent this time, but there was no dearth of his excitement. He kept on religiously supporting his teammates on social media and sharing his delight with his fans as India’s strong mixed team event campaign culminated into a gold medal in Gold Coast.
The veteran player expressed his joy in an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda right after India’s momentous feat.
Kashyap acknowledged that it was indeed a big win, considering the fact that multiple reigning Olympic silver medallists formed the core of Malaysia’s strength.
“We deserved it. We fought really well,” said Kashyap.
“It’s such a big victory against Malaysia, who’s one of the world’s best teams in the mixed team format. And considering the first three events, the opponents were the Olympic silver medallists. Against such strong opposition, we were the underdogs. It’s really a big win.”
It took the mixed doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy a lot of pluck to fight back from a 7-11 deficit in the third game against Rio silver medallists Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh.
The highly experienced Ponnappa upped the ante and then inspired her younger partner to produce his smashes to wrest away the advantage from their accomplished opponents. That win gave a huge boost to the entire team and then Kidambi Srikanth backed it up with a masterclass to defeat the great Lee Chong Wei for the first time in any competition other than the PBL.
Saina Nehwal lost her focus mid-way through her women’s singles encounter with Soniia Cheah but restored order soon after to lead the team to their first ever gold after India lost their third rubber in men’s doubles.
Kashyap admired the courage that his training partners displayed in Gold Coast with the odds stacked against them and believes that this accomplishment will thoroughly encourage everyone to train harder.
“As a senior player, I would say I have been a part of the team and I know how the feeling is when you win a gold medal. Against such a strong team like Malaysia, you need to wibig matches and that’s what our players did. They came up trumps against formidable opponents.
“It takes a lot of courage and spirit to get such a win. I am very, very happy for my colleagues. I would say that this win would push the players more in training since they have now set a standard by winning the gold. It’s a big source of motivation for everyone training at the academy.”
'I was there when there was no system'
Kashyap has been appearing in senior international tournaments since 2006 and has naturally been an integral member of Indian badminton for more than a decade. From the days when the sport lacked in the basic facilities in the country to being a badminton powerhouse now, Kashyap has seen it all.
Back in 2010, when India finished second to Malaysia in the mixed team event, the growth of the sport was still in its nascent stage. It was after that year that the sport received major reinforcements and the developments started until it became a force to reckon with.
On being asked the differences between the state of badminton in India then and now, Kashyap admitted that he knew that an achievement of such a magnitude would always take time. The gold is the reward India is getting after putting up a proper system in place.
“There has been huge improvement in every event. I have always said that it takes time. You don’t get results overnight,” Kashyap explained.
“Gopi Sir has been chief coach from 2006. Since then there has been gradual improvements. Slowly the singles players did well. Along with the help of the government and BAI, we have got good coaches in doubles and slowly they have also started improving,” he elaborated.
“As a team, they have kept growing. Gradually, with time, singles kept getting better and better and now, we have a strong doubles team. Credit goes to the Malaysian coach Tan Kim Her and also to BAI and to the government for funding all these players and tournaments and for giving so many coaches and facilities for all of us.
“This is the result you get for putting up this system in place. I was there when there was no system in India and I know from the time the system started, how things started slowly improving.”
Kashyap, who has been busy training for his next tournaments in Australia and New Zealand in early May, also lauded the coaches. Calling India’s gold a victory for them as well, he heaped praise on the entire support system that helped India deliver such a win on the big stage.
“More than the players, I am very happy for the coaches and the support staff and the entire system behind this win. The government spent money and the coaches spent a lot of time as they had a vision and they have now delivered the result. It is a victory for them too,” he signed off.