Shankar, whose sister Priyanka also excelled in National badminton a couple of years ago winning the girls’ doubles title, is not short of encouragement at home as his father Subramaniam and mother Rani Thayammal have quit their jobs to help their children focus on the sport.
The DAV Senior Secondary School student has a busy schedule in badminton as he trains at Fireball from 5 to 6 30 am, 2 30 to 4 30 pm and again from 6 30 pm to 8 30 pm.
“My No 1 ranking last year was by virtue of my two first places and four second places in the ranking tournaments,” explained Shankar. “I started with a second place in Hyderabad and then two more second places followed at Patna and Gulbarga. Then my breakthrough came in New Delhi where I won the first national event. I repeated the feat at Kurnool and then finished second at Vizag,” said the most promising talent in the sub-junior section in the State. “Until I finished second in Vizag, I was No 2 and after Vizag, I became No 1,” he added.
Shankar, whose first National was at Durgapur in the under-13 section in 2013, said his main competitors in the category were Praman Rao Gandham, who was the top seed, Akash Singh of UP and Upananda of Manipur, who is now part of the Gopichand Academy.
In Chennai, Shankar will be up against bigger and elder boys because the ranking event at Fireball is for Under-17 and Under-19 categories. He had a brief outing in both the sections this year. “In Jodhpur in the Under-19 section, I made it to the main draw but lost in the first round but in the Under-17 section at Thiruvananthapuram, I lost in the second round,” he said.
In between, he had a good time in the Under-15 National at Coimbatore this year. “I entered the quarter-finals where I lost to Vidyasagar Salam of Manipur, who is now training at the Gopichand Academy but I am happy because this was my first year in the Under-15 catagory,” added Shankar.
In the higher categories in the state, Shankar’s main rival is Siddant Gupta, who is one year elder to him. “I lost to him in the Under-19 final at Fireball this year, but the scores were close (13-15, 15-14 and 14-15),” recalled Shankar.
Shankar is No 8 in the National Under-15 category.