Shankar carves his own way to the top
Shankar Muthusamy Subramanian found success in 2022 when he reached the final of the World Junior Championships in Santander, eventually losing to Kuo Kuan Lin of Chinese Taipei in the final.
By reaching the summit clash, the 19-year-old Aparna Popat joined the elite list of Saina Nehwal and Cyril Verma and became only the fourth Indian to enter the final of the world’s most prestigious junior badminton tournament.
Since then, the shuttler from Chennai has been off the radar but not off the circuit. Away from the limelight, Shankar is spending his time playing International Challenges/Series – tournaments which are a rung below the BWF World Tour. The earned points helped the southpaw achieve another breakthrough in December 2022 when she broke into the top 100 and is currently ranked 93rd in the world.
“My performances have been good in the recent past. I am regularly entering quarter finals. I hope to reach the top-50 by the end of the year. There is no specific date, but more than top-50 I want to break into top-30 as soon as possible because that would mean I would get to play all the top-level tournaments,” the former junior world No.1 said from Amsterdam.
“It’s about getting success like the World Junior Championships. It was a great event for me. I need a good patch like winning the title.”
Shankar is unique in the Indian badminton scene primarily because he has made a name for himself despite not coming from two of the most prominent badminton academies in the country – the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad and the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru. The left-handed player is a product of the Fireball Badminton Academy in Mogappair, Chennai, training under childhood coach Arvind Samiyappan since he was five years old.
Not being a part of the top academy has its advantages and disadvantages. “The advantage is that I can have my own schedule. I can discuss with my coach and alternate my schedule. It’s all according to me. If you’re in an academy, it’s a process (all other There may not be as much individual training. The disadvantage is that they get to play against top and different types of players and have more practice partners,” Shankar explains.
Son of Subramaniam, a retired Chennai Port Trust official, and Rani, a homemaker, Shankar has also taken a unique route this season, shifting his base to Europe for a few months. He is not only playing tournaments in Europe but also traveling to different academies to learn new tricks of the trade under different coaches.
Shankar recently went to Paris for 10 days to train at INSEP (National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance of France) to train under the guidance of renowned Spanish coach Fernando Rivas, who is the coach of three-time world champion Carolina Marin . Had Shankar not fallen ill and returned to Amsterdam, his tenure would have continued. Now training with Shankar Aram Mahmood in Netherlands.
In his latest tournament, Shankar reached the quarterfinals of the Dutch International earlier this month and will play Luxembourg Open, Swedish Open and Slovenia Open in May before returning home.