Sankar Muthusamy, took home a silver medal in the junior world championship, was on the verge of withdrawing from the match in Santander due to an accused act of disobedience.
Shortly before departing for Spain to compete in the BWF Junior World Championships, Sankar Muthusamy received word that he was no longer a part of the Indian team going to Santander.
The Badminton Association of India investigated into an alleged act of indiscipline before deciding not to send the 18-year-old. Sankar had left the Hyderabad national training facility to participate in a match in Bangalore.
After an apology, Sankar was eventually allowed to compete in the individual boys’ singles event, but was not picked to take part in the team competition – in which India failed to even make the quarterfinals.
After more than a few worried nights wondering if he was going to be allowed to compete, Sankar is making waves. This time for the right reasons. On Saturday, Sankar advanced to the final of the boys’ singles category, beating Thailand’s Panitchaphon Teeraratsakul 21-13, 21-15.
In doing so, Sankar became only the fourth Indian — alongside Aparna Popat, Saina Nehwal and Siril Verma — to book a place in the final of the badminton junior world championships.
Regardless of the result of the final on Sunday, Sankar has already done better than world medalists Lakshya Sen and B Sai Praneeth, both of whom had won bronze at the junior worlds.
While the medal will justify Sankar’s right to be at the junior worlds, the win is significant for another reason.
Prior to Sankar, all but one (Aparna Popat) of India’s previous medalists at the junior world championships, had been produced by only two academies — the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad and the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bangalore.
Sankar is from the small Fireball Academy in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, a state not known as a badminton powerhouse. Sankar Muthusamy enters junior badminton world championships final
“This win is very important because almost all the previous medalists came from bigger academies. Sankar is from a small academy, from a state which doesn’t really have a tradition of badminton.
Sankar’s family isn’t particularly wealthy. His father worked in the Chennai Port Authority as an engineer, but took voluntary retirement to travel with his son for tournaments.
Muthusamy has never allowed his son’s career to be hampered by money. By 2019 alone, we had spent the majority of our funds on vacation.
Due to the requirement to demonstrate having a particular amount of money in your bank account, it became difficult for him to obtain a visa in 2019 when he wanted to participate in Europe.
It was inevitable that we would have to sell our home, says Muthusamy matter-of-factly. The family is now residing in a leased flat.
People might think this is a flash in the pan, but it is a very significant moment. It will give a lot of people the confidence that a top-quality badminton player can come from any part of the country,” says Aravindan Samiappan, the player’s coach.
According to his Sankar’s coaches, being from a smaller academy does not restrict his ambition. “He might not be practising with the best player, but is always inspired by them.
His favorite player is (China’s two-time Olympic champion) Lin Dan. Sankar is left-handed like him and watches Lin Dan’s matches at the Olympics and world championships all the time. That’s who his role model is,” says Muthusamy.
For now, Sankar has a long way to go to match his icon’s career. Sankar is clear what he wants to do. “Our immediate goal after the world championships is to compete in more senior competitions at the World Tour 500 level.
That way we can start testing ourselves against tougher opponents. The more we do that the better we will get and the more opportunities we will get,” says Sankar.