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R. Satwiksairaj, Konaseema boy in quest of badminton Olympic glory
Amaravati, July 11 - Rankireddy Satwiksairaj, India's men's doubles badminton Olympic contestant from Konaseema region in Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district, aims to corner glory at the upcoming Tokyo Games with partner Chirag Shetty.
It is no mean feat for a boy like Satwiksairaj, coming from a humble background in a small town to rise up to Olympic standards.
The 21-year-old shuttler from Amalapuram, a green and picturesque Godavari town, picked up the game while hanging around with his physical trainer father.
Born on August 13, 2000, the promising child had the habit of accompanying his father Kasi Vishwanath almost everywhere and continued to do the same when the latter used to visit the officers' club in Amalapuram to play badminton.
Incidentally, he picked up the racquet at the tender age of four and tried playing the sport, eventually catching the eye of Punnaiah Chowdhary, Metla Suryanarayana and others who fostered the promising talent.
As time passed by, the child blossomed into an excellent player and went on to bag a medal in the doubles category at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Konaseema boy also won an Arjuna Award in 2020.
Satwiksairaj's task is cut out in the Olympics. Along with Mumbai-based doubles partner Chirag Shetty, he aims to win medals and bring popularity to the doubles format.
The duo began playing from 2016 and rose up the ranks to as high as the seventh position in the world rankings in 2019.
Initially, Satwiksairaj and Shetty used to compete against each other and the latter, older by three years, used to regularly defeat the former.
However, they both formed a pair, heeding the advice of their coaches to form an ace team and qualify to represent India at Tokyo.
Despite being from different ends of the Indian peninsula and with unfamiliar languages, they duo overcame these small difficulties to develop an excellent rapport.
Representing badminton, a sport which rose to great popularity in the past decade in India, Satiwiksairaj aims to add an Olympic medal to the ones already won by Saina Nehwal in the 2012 London Games and P.V. Sindu's 2016 Rio silver medal.
Thanks to Nehwal, Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Pullella Gopichand and several others for elevating the fame and stature of badminton in a cricket obsessed country as well as proving to the world that India can also produce world beaters in this discipline.
Recently, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy met the Tokyo Olympics-bound shuttler and conveyed his best wishes to him and Sindhu. Reddy doled out a cash incentive of Rs 5 lakh.
"Heartfelt gratitude for the support and appreciation by CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and grant of Rs 5 lakh towards Olympics preparation," said Satwiksairaj.
Likewise, he also featured in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent 'Mann ki Baat' programme, in which he appreciated him and Shetty for pushing ahead despite hurdles.
Shetty lost his grandfather while Satwiksairaj battled Covid in the first wave.
"Today at Maan ki Baat programme our Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged and blessed all the Indian Olympic participants. Felt proud and blessed upon hearing our names. We surely give our best and bring laurels to our country at Olympics," he said on June 27.
(Sharon Thambala can be contacted at email@example.com)
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