Living up to his pre-tournament promise of finishing on the podium, Aman Farogh Sanjay reigned supreme in the Benin International Future Series badminton tourney in Cotonou on Saturday.
The four-day tournament was organized by the Badminton Confederation of Africa under the auspices of the Badminton World Federation.
Unseeded Aman Farogh Sanjay caused three upsets to clinch his maiden international title in the seniors’ category. The talented Maharashtra shuttler was the only Indian participant in the tourney.
In the men’s singles final, 21-year-old Aman outwitted fifth seed Dmitriy Panarin of Kazakhstan 21-13, 21-17. Southpaw Aman dominated his higher-ranked opponent on the way to winning the first major title of his career.
World No. 294 Panarin was the champion of the Kazakhstan International Series tournament in 2018. The tall shuttler also won the men’s doubles title in the same tournament. The 21-year-old Panarin represented his country at the Youth Olympic Games in 2018.
The reigning Khelo India Youth Games champion Aman overcame the problem of RSL shuttles and formidable opponents to register straight-game victories in all his five matches.
“I feel very privileged to represent my country at the international level. It has always been my dream to play overseas and winning a gold medal makes me the happiest. I am absolutely delighted. The opponent was very good and was well experienced. Although we knew each other, we were playing for the first time. It was a tough fight and a very nice match. I am happy that I played well and delivered today,” said Aman.
I want to give credit to my parents and Thane Academy for my success: Aman
It was the second international final for Aman. In 2019, Aman finished as runner-up at the Kenyan International tournament but this time he made his form count and won the crown.
“I would like to thank my parents because they have sacrificed a lot for me and have always supported me no matter good or bad times. I am grateful to Syed Modi Badminton Academy (Thane Academy) where I started playing professional badminton almost 12 years ago. My coach Shrikant Vad Sir played a big role in molding me. My academy senior coaches Mayur Ghatnekar and Akshay Dewalkar always supported me,” said Aman, who is ranked a lowly 616 in the world.
Thane Academy head coach Shrikant Vad believes the title will prove to be a turning point in Aman’s career.
“First international title is always special for any player. It will certainly boost Aman’s confidence as he moves ahead in his career. Due to pandemic and strict lockdown in Maharashtra, Aman has had very little practice in the last year or so. Hopefully with a title now under his belt, he will be a completely changed player in the future,” said Shrikant Vad.
Former India Under-19 boys singles No.1 player, Aman will now travel to Latvia to play another international tournament next week.
Aman's road to triumph
First round: Aman bt Josaphate Kognanou (Benin) 21-6, 21-7 (14 minutes)
Second round: Aman bt 3-Habeeb Temitope Bello (Nigeria) 21-12, 21-17 (48 minutes)
Quarter-final: Aman bt Robert White (South Africa) 21-18, 21-16 (27 minutes)
Semi-final: Aman bt 6-Robert Summers (South Africa) 21-18, 21-12 (32 minutes)
Final: Aman bt 5-Dmitriy Panarin (Kazakhstan) 21-13, 21-17 (33 minutes).