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Para Sports

Khelo India Para Games medallist Vikram Kumar calls for increased government support

India's fifth-ranked para-badminton star, Vikram Umesh Kumar, urges enhanced support for the country's top ten players. He emphasised global standing should be given priority over national rankings.

Vikram Umesh Kumar Para Badminton
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Vikram Umesh Kumar won a silver medal at the Khelo India Para Games.

By

Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 13 Dec 2023 5:33 AM GMT

New Delhi: Para-badminton athlete Vikram Umesh Kumar, currently ranked fifth in the world, is seeking increased support from both the federation and the government for Indian players ranked in the top ten.

Speaking to The Bridge after securing a silver medal at the ongoing Khelo India Para Games, Vikram emphasised the need for a shift in focus from national rankings to global standing.

"The support we need from the system, government, and private entities is mostly not there for us. They always look at the rank of the player, not the gameplay. I am currently India's No. 5, so I'm not getting much support, but they should also consider that I am ranked among the top ten players in the world," Vikram expressed his concerns, advocating for equal recognition for all top ten players across categories.

"In various categories, players ranked 10th or 11th globally gain more attention due to their higher Indian ranking. There's a crucial need for a consistent criterion to recognize the top ten players across all categories, ensuring equal opportunities and minimizing challenges for the top five players." He continued.

Vikram, a former World Championship medallist, started playing badminton more than ten years ago.

"I started playing badminton in 2011. I am from an engineering background, having completed my engineering from BIT Mesra and currently working in Tata Steel. Despite consistently winning national medals for the past 14 years, the recent Khelo India Para Games marked a unique feat for me coming at an event organized by SAI," said Vikram.

Vikram, representing Bihar, clinched the medal in the SL3 category, where he faced stiff competition.

Reflecting on the competition, he said, "There is a lot of competition in India in my category of men's singles SL3. Six of the top 12 players in the world rankings are from India, and I am currently the fifth-best Indian. The difference between the level of all these players is not big; we always play close matches with each other."

Vikram also acknowledged the difficulties he faced in reaching the final, "I had tough matches from the quarterfinals, including a close semifinal against a player from my state. This affected my recovery for the final. Despite the challenging draw, my aim was to reach the final. Besides competing with players, I also struggled against environmental factors to win this medal. "

In the tightly contested final, Vikram lost to Nehal Gupta of Uttar Pradesh in a three-setter. Despite falling short, he spoke highly of the match and his opponent.

"The final was a good match, and in the third game, it was a constant difference of only two-three points. Overall, I am very satisfied with my performance. My opponent is a young and rising player who works hard. Playing against a tough opponent improves oneself, helping identify weaknesses and strengths." Vikram concluded.

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