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How Suhas the world number 2 para-shuttler is leading the coronavirus battle in Noida 

  • Instated as the DM of Noida on March 30, the 2016 Asian Champion has installed 300 isolation beds across GB Nagar.
  • The 36-year-old was also shortlisted in the Prime Minister's 'Jan Dhan' award.
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Exclusive
Modified 11 Apr 2020, 13:07 IST
Suhas Yathiraj in Noida
Suhas Yathiraj in Noida's isolation wards

On March 30, 2020, the Yogi Adityanath led Uttar Pradesh government was on the brink of an apocalyptic pandemic with little to no resources to manage the unprecedented Coronavirus onslaught.

With just 40 isolation beds to take care of over 200 cases, Noida and Greater Noida became the hub for the ever-spreading virus not just in the state, but also across the country. Unimpressed with the District Magistrate’s ability to handle proceedings, the Chief Minister decided to replace B N Singh with Suhas Yathiraj, from the 2007 I.A.S batch.

Renowned for his cutthroat approach towards work, the 36-year old was even shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s coveted ‘Jan Dhan’ award.

The results were instant, Noida now has 600 isolation beds along with a special ‘Team 300’ created to survive the ongoing pandemic. With the curve flattening, albeit slowly, Yahiraj’s role has been crucial in the region’s fight against an imperceptible situation. However, what people don’t know about this Indian COVID-19 warrior is he is renowned across the world a specific skill set that has brought several laurels to the country.

First ever bureaucrat to win an international badminton tournament

In 2016, Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj created history by becoming the first-ever IAS officer to win an international badminton title. He won gold in the Asian Para-Badminton Championship held in Beijing, by defeating Indonesia’s Hary Susanto in the final.

This particular victory signalled the beginning of international domination for the Karnataka born bureaucrat in the SL 4 category (minor deformation). He would go onto win gold in the 2017 BWF Turkish Para-Badminton Championship to climb to world number 2 in the world rankings. All this while juggling duties as the District Magistrate of Azamgarh.

Being congraulated by Narendra Modi
Being congraulated by Narendra Modi

Before completely shifting focus towards tackling the coronavirus pandemic, Yathiraj won four silver and bronze medals across several international major para-badminton championships in the 2019 calendar year. Despite so much success in the international badminton circuit, Yathiraj is still primarily focused on serving the country.

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Speaking to Sportskeeda, during this unprecedented time, he said, “To be honest, right now, sports is not important. We need to curb this virus, otherwise, people in our country are going to be affected severely. We have over 700 cases in Gautam Buddh Nagar now, so there is no time to rest. The idea of Team 300 is to create awareness, particularly in the 12 shortlisted hotspots in the country.

Tokyo 2021 Paralympic dream takes a backseat

Despite not playing any tournaments since the beginning of 2020, Yathiraj is still a front runner to qualify for the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics.

He said, “My interest in badminton started in 2012, the deformity in my ankle forced me to play sports more and stay more active. It was then I came to know about para-badminton and its been uphill from there. Right now I don’t think I can dedicate any time to this till next year. So I’m not sure about Tokyo 2021, my responsibility is to make my region corona free, and I’m fully focused on that.”

The 2018 National champion also emphasized that a major part of his job is to ensure that basic necessities reach the poor on time. He added, “I think playing badminton every day has helped me work 24/7 even at my current age, so I think everyone should play sport once the pandemic is over, people can do that. For now, social distancing is key.”

Yathiraj has also been awarded by the UP Government for his excellent work in administration. During the elections last year, he was lauded for helping differently-abled voters. In 2016, he would also be awarded as the best para sportsperson from Uttar Pradesh.

Despite half a decade of winning laurels in badminton, Yathiraj has sacrificed his Tokyo 2021 Olympic dream to serve the country. The least we can do is stay home and help India overcome an unprecedented crisis.

Published 10 Apr 2020, 13:33 IST
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