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History was created by them in Thailand on Sunday. Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, being the first Indian pair, clinched BWF Tour Super Series 500 title at the Thailand Open badminton championship on. The Indian duo defeated reigning champions Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen of China. Yet Chirag, while speaking to The Bridge from Hyderabad on Monday, seemed composed as he calmly stated, “We have two dreams, and we cannot be complacent unless those are fulfilled!” One of the dreams is defeating the world’s number one pair Kevin Sanjaya and Marcus Fernaldi. Chirag asserted, “They have been number one in the world for the last couple of years. We have beaten Kevin. But that time, he did not play with his actual partner. We dream of defeating them.”
Like several other shuttlers of the country, Chirag also was heavily influenced by the legend, Prakash Padukone. Chirag started playing badminton at the age of seven at the Goregaon Sports Academy in Mumbai, initially under the training of Manish Sir, and later under former Indian international Uday Pawar. “Before playing badminton, I used to play cricket. But my father wanted me to establish in a game of the individual show. Then while training, Uday Sir used to share a lot of inspiring stories on Prakash Padukone. Having heard about those tremendous performances, as well as the relentless hard work and discipline, maintained by Prakash Padukone, I grew excited. Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy after winning the Thailand Open "Taufik Hidayet, the former world number one, also had an influence when I was growing up as badminton player,” added Chirag Shetty. The 22-year-old silver medalist at the doubles event in Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018, had an inclination towards playing doubles right from the beginning.
The other dream he harbours is to win medals at the Olympics. He added, “But we need to qualify for the Olympics first. It will be the happiest moment for us if we can stand on the podium.”
That is why current national doubles coach, Flandy Limpele, conducts sprint training for these two regularly in the national camp in Hyderabad. While creating history, Chirag also remembered their bad times. They were ruled out of the court for around four-and-a-half months due to Satwik’s shoulder injury in January this year. Chirag recalled, “It was extremely frustrating that we had to withdraw from a couple of important tournaments during that phase. I participated in one, but being with Satwik for the last four years, how could I change partner and start playing tournaments?” In a bid to motivate him psychologically, Rafael Nadal and Usain Bolt have been major inspirations for Chirag. Mentioning Nadal he said, “I get inspiration from Nadal’s great determination, zeal to come back, in spite of being ruled out of the court several times. I get boost watching him winning majors even at the age of 33. I try to take his sheer courage and mental strength.” The new star will be going back home for a couple of days to celebrate his Thailand Open feat and then come back to Hyderabad to resume training for the World Championships starting later this month.
He explained, “In one line, playing doubles can be compared to 100 meters race in athletics while playing singles can be compared to the 400 meters race in athletics. You need to excel in fitness, precisely speed, reflex and endurance ultimately.”