The 19-year-old is currently ranked at the 97th position in BWF rankings.
Sankar Muthusamy won the silver medal at the World Junior Badminton Championships 2022, becoming the 10th Indian to achieve the feat. The 19-year-old has been in the badminton circuit for a long time winning several titles at the junior circuit. Sankar was part of the Chennai franchise in the PBL (Premier Badminton League) and was the youngest to play in the league. Currently, the young shuttler is ranked 97th, a career-best rank in the seniors, and was also the junior World No. 1 in 2022.
Experience playing in PBL
Sankar Muthusamy was part of the Chennai Superstarz and was the youngest to debut (15) in the history of PBL. He played alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Lakshya Sen, and Gayatri Gopichand.
“My personal coach was the head coach of Chennai superstars so it was a bit comfortable in the initial few weeks. But after that, I got comfortable playing alongside Satwik and Lakshya, having known them since 2018. Also, I played a match against Lee Cheuk Yiu who won the Hong Kong Super Series 500 defeating Ginting in 2019,” the youngster commented.
He continued, “Getting a chance to play in the PBL was itself a great experience and that too at such a young age of 16.”
Defeating Tommy Sugiarto
Sankar beat Tommy Sugiarto, the 2014 BWF World Championship bronze medallist, after losing the first set at the BWF Vietnam Open. The young prodigy’s brilliant run came to an end after losing in the R32.
Sankar Muthusamy reminisced, “Playing against a top-quality opponent is always a challenge and Tommy Sugiarto is the 2014 BWF World Championship medallist. There was hype in the media saying Shankar sent Tommy packing which I didn’t like as we need to respect players. During PBL we do not get to practice for long hours as we have interviews and other processes.”
Role of coach Aravindan
Aravindan Swaminathan was the coach of PBL franchise Chennai Superstarz in 2020 and is the personal of Sankar Muthusamy. Sankar currently trains at the Fireball training academy in Chennai.
The World No. 97 quipped, “I have never been to big academies like Gopichand or the Prakash Padukone academy. Since my childhood, I have been playing at the Fireball Academy and still continuing at the same academy. 90 per cent of the credit goes to my family members, Aravindan sir, and strength and conditioning coach Deepak sir who have been my main support system. All of them together made my route easier to get into the top 100 and win the silver medal at the World Junior Championships.”
Quality of badminton in Tamil Nadu
The youngsters of Tamil Nadu are showing good signs in the past few years. There has been good participation at the junior national meets from the state. Players like Sathish Kumar Karunakaran, Siddhanth Gupta, and Rithvik Sanjeevi have been performing well on the senior circuit as well.
Sankar Muthusamy explained the growth by saying, “In 2016 or 2017 if anyone wins a national trophy it was considered very big but now many players, especially the juniors, have started to shine. When I won the U-13 national title it was considered a massive achievement but nowadays players have started winning the U-19 title as well. Currently, there is good competition but the transition from juniors to seniors shall be important.”
He also said he will continue being in the state, training from Chennai instead of Hyderabad. He added, “As of now, there are no plans to change my training centre as I am very much comfortable here. I am able to plan my own schedule now which cannot be done in big academies as there are a few processes which need to be followed. Also, there won’t be any personal attention with many top players practising.”
Transition from junior to senior
Sankar Muthusamy has been playing in the senior section for quite a long time. And he recently made it to the top 100 in the singles ranking. However, his performances in the seniors helped him be the highest-ranked junior player in the world.
The youngster explained, “I started playing in the senior tournaments while playing the juniors. In specific, I stopped junior three years ago and my father has a huge role in this. According to the BWF ranking criteria, the senior ranking points are considered in the junior rankings as well. It is why I became the junior World No. 1 in singles. I have been part of a couple of super 300 events which has given me good experience.”
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Role of Go Sports Foundation
Go Sports has been helping a lot of upcoming athletes through various means. They help the athletes by funding them for tournaments and by providing the necessary coaches needed. Shankar Muthusamy has been with the foundation for six years and credits them for success.
“Go Sports has played a major role in my career. I have been a Go Sports athlete for about six years now. They have supported me and backed me through all my ups and downs.”
“The 2023 season is going to be a packed one. And the main aim is to get into the top 40 or 50 which will enable me to play in all the major tournaments going forward,” Sankar Muthusamy concluded.
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