It was a confidence booster to win first international title on debut, says teenager Naren Shankar

18-year-old Naren Shankar Iyer won the junior title on international debut
18-year-old Naren Shankar Iyer won the junior title on international debut
Suhas Nayse

In a season where so many young Indian shuttlers were hogging the limelight, Naren Shankar Iyer emerged as another promising shuttler to be watched out for in the future.

Naren Shankar Iyer emulated the feat of Maisnam Meiraba to launch his campaign in style on the international circuit.

Qualifier Maisnam Meiraba, who is just 18 years old, created history on August 29, 2021 when he won the Latvia International Series badminton tournament on his debut.

Exactly a month later, Naren joined Meiraba by winning the men’s singles crown at the Belgian Junior International Series in Herstal, Belgium.

Eighteen-year-old Naren won the title in the junior section, while Meiraba achieved the feat in the senior category.

In a thrilling Under-19 boys’ singles final, Naren rallied back in splendid fashion to upset fifth seed Yaro Van Delsen of Belgium 20-22, 21-15, 21-12.

Hat-trick of titles for #TasminMir whereas, #NarenIyer & Tasmin Mir wins the Belgian Junior International Series Badminton.Top seed Tasmin beat Antonia Schaller 21-10, 21-11 and Naren defeated Yaro Van Delsen 20-22, 21-15, 21-22 to lift the trophy πŸ†#Badminton

In a battle which lasted for 54 minutes, the Karnataka youngster did not have the best of starts and lost the opening game narrowly.

However, Naren bounced back strongly to claim the next two games with an inspired display of power and precision. The tall teenager cut down on his unforced errors to outlast his higher-ranked opponent.

Naren has now returned to India and resumed his training at the Level-up Badminton Academy in Bengaluru.

I have learnt a lot of things from my first overseas trip: Naren

Naren has never played any international tournaments in India or abroad. In fact, it was his first overseas journey and he traveled alone to Belgium. It was a good learning experience for him amid the pandemic time.

β€œIt was a very nice feeling and a confidence booster to win my first international title on my debut. I have learnt a lot of things from my trip. I've got to play some quality opponents on my way to triumph. For me, upsetting two seeded players was the most satisfying thing. It boosted my confidence a great deal,” said Naren.
Karnataka teenager Naren Shankar Iyer at the podium in Belgium last week
Karnataka teenager Naren Shankar Iyer at the podium in Belgium last week

After launching his campaign on a victorious note, Naren has not decided about his next tournaments yet. He is now focusing on the forthcoming Karnataka State Badminton Championship and wants to do well in it.

β€œAs of now, I have to play in the state championship starting next week. I have not yet decided on international tournaments that I can play next. I will sit down with my coach Arvind Bhat and plan the next course of action,” said Naren.

With stiff competition at national and international level, Naren aims to improve his game by a few notches. He believes there are many areas he can improve upon in the next few months.

β€œI have to improve in many aspects overall. I will try to keep improving all the time. To survive the tough competition, I will have to keep working hard and keep learning new things. I have a good patience and attacking game which is my plus point,” said Naren.

Former Indian badminton team member Arvind Bhat has been coaching Naren since 2015 at his Level-up Badminton Academy. The former national champion believes Naren has a lot of potential and could do well for India in the future.

β€œNaren definitely has a game to perform well at the highest level. He should maintain his focus and keep working hard all the time. Due to the pandemic, players like Naren have lost a vital couple of years. It is his last year in the juniors and from next year he will have to play the seniors. He will have to prepare properly for the challenges ahead,” said Bhat.

It was a bright start for Naren with the title on debut at the Belgian junior international tournament. It will be interesting to see whether he can match that feat in the senior section as well.

Edited by Rohit Mishra
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