NEW DELHI: After missing out on Rio Olympics due to a knee surgery, a fit-again Parupalli Kashyap is now racing against time to regain his place in the Indian team and defend his title at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
When Kashyap wobbled off the court at German Open last year, he would have never imagined that it would spell the end of his Olympic dream. It was only after the India Super Series that he realised his knee won't heal in time and he will be robbed of his second Olympics Games as he won't be able to improve his ranking before the May 4 deadline.
The 30-year-old recovered from the knee injury and made a comeback late last year only to hurt his shoulder at the Premier Badminton League in January. Now back to full fitness after recovering from the shoulder injury which took four months to heal, Kashyap is facing the uphill task of racking up enough ranking points to earn a place in the Commonwealth Games team.
"It has been a difficult phase for me to go through the whole injury phase. First it was knee which ended my Olympic dream and then the shoulder injury. But I am feeling good now, I am fit and I am happy with my performance at China Masters Grand Prix Gold," Kashyap told PTI. "I will get better as I play more. It was just the first tournament in four months and I will now have to improve my ranking enough to be selected in the team for the Commonwealth Games, so that I can defend my title."
"It will be challenging but I will give it a shot. It is difficult but possible," he added. A former World No. 6, Kashyap is now ranked 80.
During the injury lay-off, many of his junior colleagues such as Sameer Verma and Sai Praneeth found success. "It is a very healthy competition. We have some good players in India now and it helps to train against them. There is Srikanth, Sameer, Praneeth, all these guys are fantastic players. So I will really need to work hard to achieve my target," Kashyap said.
RMV Gurusaidutt, who had won the bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, also had to undergo a major surgery for a nagging ankle problem in October last year and has been out of international circuit ever since.
The 27-year-old has also regained his fitness and is playing his first tournament at the ongoing PSPB inter-unit badminton Championship in Bangalore. "It has been a long way to recovery. I have been training hard and played in the academy against my fellow players but this is the first event since my surgery. It will help me to test my fitness and recovery," he said.
Asked about next year's Commonwealth Games, Guru said: "I don't think I will give it a shot because it is still early days since my recovery and I don't want to put too much pressure on myself and get injured again. So I will take one match, one event at a time."