Seasoned Bhat raring for one major smash

Badminton Senior Nationals: Want to win a Super Series title

He had dreams becoming an engineer but fate conspired to make Arvind Bhat a badminton champion.

renewed energy: Seasoned campaigner Arvind Bhat has his eyes firmly set on retaining the National Championship. DH Photo/ Kishor Kumar BolarIt did take a while for the Karnataka shuttler realise his potential but once he did so, there was no stopping the determined 32-year-old. The bespectacled player, who had a career high world ranking of 20 in 2009, tasted success for more than a decade in the national and international circuits.

Bhat, who is the defending National champion and ranked 63 in the world, in a chat with Deccan Herald spoke about his career and various other topics on the sidelines of the ensuing National badminton championships at the KBA Courts on Tuesday.

Excerpts:

On his chances of retaining the title: I had a couple of injuries last year but now I am fully fit and raring to go. There are no favourites here as all players are capable of beating others in the draw. I just want to take one match at a time, and even though I am 32 years now I am keen to prove my mettle one more time at the Nationals. 

On leading players giving a miss to the meet: I am a player so I know how much difficult it is to come here and play when you have a busy schedule. I don’t blame Saina, Jwala Gutta or any other top players because they are world class shuttlers who have proved their worth at the Nationals. They are now focusing on performing well against the best in the world. Another factor is that there is hardly any money involved in the national meet. But for me, I am an average player and not an extraordinary one, and I want to prove it again that I am still the best in the National circuit.

On his career so far: I started playing badminton at the age of 12 for a fun. I even quit the sport when I joined for Mechanical Engineering (BE) at University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering. I was 18 then but I came back two years later and joined Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA). But I took it seriously only after winning a National-level tournament where I beat some of the top players. Soon, in 2002, I was named in the Indian team for the Thomas and Uber Cup. Since then for the past 10 years I am a regular in the squad.  I won my first international title in 2004 at the Scottish Open and my other major triumphs include the Czech Open, Jordan Open, Syria Open.

However, I lost in four National finals from 2004-08 before I could pocket the crown in 2009. When I started my career there was hardly any money in the sport. Now I am happy that I am employed with Bharat Petroleum as an Asst Manager in Bangalore.
On his future: I want to play for two more years. I am focusing on winning a major international title, especially Super Series, before quitting. So working hard to realise that dream.

On the talent pool in the country:  None of the upcoming shuttlers is extraordinary. They all are at the same level. Sourabh Varma, Ajay Jayaram, Sai Praneeth, Kashyap are all good but not extraordinary players like Prakash Padukone or P Gopichand or Saina Nehwal. To succeed at the highest level in international circuit you have to be above average. But among women, PV Sindhu is a good prospect. She has taken her game to a different level and has every chance of winning the crown here. But overall, the badminton in India is looking good.

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