Sankar charts his own way to the top

Apr 28, 2023 06:24 PM IST

The 19-year-old won a silver at the Junior Worlds in 2022 and is currently training in the Netherlands

Sankar Muthusamy Subramanian had a breakthrough in 2022 when he reached the final of the World Junior Championships in Santander, eventually losing to Chinese Taipei’s Kuo Kuan Lin in the final.

Sankar Muthusamy Subramanian(Twitter/@babaighosh)
Sankar Muthusamy Subramanian(Twitter/@babaighosh)

By reaching the summit clash, the 19-year-old joined an elite list comprising Aparna Popat, Saina Nehwal and Siril Verma to become only the fourth Indian to enter the final of the most prestigious junior badminton tournament in the world.

Since then, the shuttler from Chennai has been off the radar but not away from the circuit. Away from the limelight, Sankar has been biding his time, playing International Challenges/Series — tournaments a rung lower than the BWF World Tour. The points earned helped the southpaw make another breakthrough in December 2022 when he entered the top 100 and is currently ranked No 93 in the world.

“My performances have been good of late. I am entering the quarter-finals regularly. I hope to reach the top-50 by the end of the year. There is no particular date but more than top-50 I want to enter the top-30 as soon as possible because it will mean I will get to play all top level tournaments,” the former junior world No.1 said from Amsterdam.

"It is about getting a breakthrough like the World Junior Championships. That was a very good event for me. I need a good patch like winning a title.”

Sankar is unique in the Indian badminton scene primarily because he has made a name for himself despite not coming from either of the two most prominent badminton academies of the country – Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad and Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru. The left-hander is a product of the Fireball Badminton Academy in Mogappair, Chennai, training under childhood coach Aravind Samiappan since he was five.

Not being a part of a top academy has its own pros and cons. “The advantages are that I can have my own schedule. I can discuss with my coach and alternate my schedule. It is all according to me. If you are in an academy, it is a process (along with everyone else), there can’t be so much personal training. The disadvantage is that they get to play against top and different kinds of players and have more sparring partners,” explains Sankar.

The son of Subramanian, a retired Chennai Port Trust official, and Rani, a housewife, Sankar has also taken a distinctive route this season, shifting his base to Europe for a few months. He is not just playing tournaments in Europe but also travelling to different academies to learn newer tricks of the trade under different coaches.

Sankar recently went to Paris for 10 days to train at INSEP (France's national institute of sport, expertise, and performance) to train under the guidance of famous Spanish coach Fernando Rivas, who is the coach of three-time world champion Carolina Marin. Sankar would have continued the stint had he not fallen ill and returned to Amsterdam. Now in the Netherlands, Sankar is training with Aram Mahmoud.

In his latest tournament, Sankar reached the quarter-finals of the Dutch International earlier this month and will play the Luxembourg Open, Swedish Open and Slovenia Open in May before returning home.


    From badminton to cricket, Sandip Sikdar writes on many sporting disciplines. He has the experience of working in digital, news agency as well as print organisations. Motorsport remains his first love.

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