India's youngster shuttler Varun Kapur is one of the best prospects among the promising players of the country. The 17-year-old lad from Kolkata the made up his way to the BWF Junior World Ranking of 4. In his short span of a career, Varun has made his mighty presence felt in the badminton galaxy and plans not to settle without winning a medal for India at the Olympics one day.
The last year turned out to be a rich harvest for Varun, who reached the finals of six BWF tournament, winning gold medals at the Valamar Junior Open in Croatia, Cyprus Junior and the Lithuanian Junior. He won silver in the Russia Junior, Dubai Junior and Portugal Junior.
Varun Kapur after winning the gold medal at the Dubai Junior International Series 2018
Varun's stepped into the court for the first time at the age of six and since then his journey has been mostly about striving to improve his game. Born and brought up in Kolkata, Varun used to accompany his father at the Saturday club, where he learnt the basics of the sport. He shifted his base later to another Raipur Club to learn the nitty-gritty of badminton, and where, with proper training, he took part in the state-level tournaments in Bengal.
"I trained at the Raipur Club between 2010 and 2014 and I could well understand that my game was picking up. I went on to win many tournaments at the state level. However, after four years, I realised that I need to take up my game a notch higher and then decided to move to Pune," said Varun in an exclusive interview with The Bridge.
Varun's parents were glad to see their son's determination to play badminton seriously and thinking about his prospect, Varun's mother took him to Pune and started staying there with his grandparents. In 2015, Varun's move to Pune and joining the Nikhil Kanetkar Sports Foundation paved the way for his future glory. "I was staying with my grandparents for the first couple of years while training at the Nikhil Kanetkar Academy. Now I have moved to an apartment close to the academy so I can focus only on my training. I can now take part in more number of sessions than earlier as my grandparents' house was pretty far from the place," says Varun.
Varun Kapoor in action
After tasting success for the first time at International level in 2018 by winning the Dubai International and Slovak International, the youngster had a major morale boost which led to his success in 2019. Just before the Valamar Junior in 2019, Varun had taken his 10th board examinations and wasn't very eager to participate in that tournament. "I was not physically or mentally ready initially. But my coach suggested to go and participate in the tournament and I went there and won it. My coach Nikhil Kanetkar built my confidence, instilled courage and made me work harder, which I am glad about. I have an excellent term with Nikhil Sir. He travels with me in every tournament I play outside India and I can reach out to him to clear my doubts any time, " Varun quips.
Varun's potential as a player has deemed him one of the rising stars of the country which led him to be funded by the Kanetkar Sports Foundation (KSF) since 2018 for all international tournaments. Since this year, he is also sponsored by Virat Kohli Foundation (VKF).
A fan of the Chinese badminton great Lin Dan, Varun admires his on-court flexibility and try to implement his strategies in his own game. He even got an opportunity to meet his idol at the 2016 Indian Open.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc all across the world and has suspended all sporting events for the time being. Varun started the year with an impressive silver medal-winning performance at the Hungarian International Junior in February. While the whole world was implementing lockdown, Varun had to return to India from Germany where he went to play the German Junior.
Varun tries his hands on cooking during the lockdown at his home in Pune
The nationwide lockdown has led Varun to stay inside his home in Pune with his grandparents. Besides training for 2 hours every day, Varun is also giving time for himself to study and stay up to date with syllabus, since he will be appearing for his 12th board exams next year. "I study for an hour every day and try to keep up with the syllabus. I am in an Open School and so I just need to take exams and do all my assignments. I am trying to go now as one day at a time. I am keeping myself busy and not thinking about what is there in store for tomorrow. I am trying to pick up hobbies like cooking. I baked cookies, made a chicken preparation with the help of my mother," says Varun.
Once the lockdown gets over and resumption of events will be carried out, Varun doesn't want to take much time to get back on the court with his regular form. He knows he has somehow pressure from within to succeed to the next level and reach the seniors, Varun says he likes to be focussed on the present. which is his mantra for success.