Tuesday, November 18, 2008


About 10 days before I was set to leave for Beijing, during a regular practice session, I twisted my right ankle while attempting to reach for a shuttle in the front right corner of the court. I was taken to Manipal hospital immediately, and on doing an MRI scan I was told that I had partially ruptured 2 of my ankle ligaments.
I had torn the plantar fascia (arch) in my left foot earlier in the year in March, but that was not a very serious injury and it only kept me out of practice and competition for about 4 weeks. This injury that I had in my ankle, though is pretty much the first real injury that I've had. As I was to leave for Beijing, I figured out some temporary solutions, like taping my right leg from the foot to just below the knee, to compeltely take away any pressure on the ankle. While in Beijing, I also took a cortisone injection in 2 spots in the ankle. A cortisone shot, while it can give temporary relief, is best avoided as it delays complete recovery of the injured area. It only blocks out the pain, it does'nt heal the injury. But since I was in the Olympics, I went ahead with the injection anyway.
Its been 3 months now since I returned from Beijing and I am still not fully healed. I still cannot stretch my right ankle as much as the left. On returning from Beijing, I consulted a couple of doctors and got a schedule of what to do (rest, strengthening etc) but when that did'nt work, I consulted a doctor in Bombay who has put me on a 6 week rehabilitation program. I am 3 weeks through the program as of now and am feeling much better. I feel like this time I am following the right kind of rehab program, even if it ends up taking a bit more time.
Its been very hard for me to skip tournament after tournament,specially since in the last 3 years or so, I have not been away from competition or training for more than a week. I've got so used to travelling around countries,competing, training hard, pushing myself to my physical limits, that I hardly know what to do with all this free time. I'd bought a flat a few months ago and renovating the flat has kept me reasonably busy, but also very stressed out :-)
I've read a lot about athletes who get injured, have a rough time in rehab, but end up coming through it stronger than before. In my case, while I know that I still have a long way to go before I'm competely fit and back on top in the rankings, I feel like I'm realising for the first time how much I love playing badminton. I've always enjoyed playing, of course, but I can feel now that its more than just a career, a job. Its what I was meant to do. And I know that once I am back playing, I will be better than I ever was before.
I'm grateful for all the e-mails wishing me a quick recovery. Its really nice to read messages of support, thanks guys!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A hard pill to swallow

September 4, 2008:
AS SOME of you may know, I just returned from the Olympics a couple of weeks ago. Though I personally did not do as well as I had hoped, it was still a great experience, to watch so many athletes from so many different sports, all very focused on giving their best in their respective events, quite incomparable with any other event that I have been part of so far in my career.

The Olympics comes only once every four years, so everyone wants to plan well, train hard and generally be in the best possible shape for it. I had hired Tom John as a personal travelling coach from March to August to give me a little bit more push in my preparation for Beijing. I felt like I had been stagnating a bit and wanted to see if working with Tom could give me that extra something that you always need. I felt like the six months went quite well, a couple of injuries notwithstanding. I improved a lot in the physical conditioning department and felt very strong on court.

On arriving at Beijing, I expected to see everything organized perfectly, with maximum efficiency, and I was not surprised that it was exactly like that. From the pick up at the airport, to the check-in at the athletes’ village, everything went fine. On the way to the village, I saw the Bird’s Nest athletics stadium and the Water Cube aquatic centre. I thought both looked amazing but I personally preferred the Water Cube, which looked amazing, especially at night. The volunteers were extremely friendly and helpful, and the accommodation at the village was also superb.

The Indian contingent was staying in the block A-1. It was nice to meet Indians from other sports. It was a really good sign to see that everyone was there to put up their best performance and not just to be a participant.

I was having trouble with my ankle, so I decided to skip the opening ceremony because it would have involved a lot of standing and walking, and while that would not be a problem, I just wanted to avoid any unnecessary strain, especially since I was playing the next day. As far as my matches went, I prepared for them as I would in any other tournament. I got through the first one okay, but I was quite disappointed with the loss to Shoji Sato in the second round. I felt like I didn’t start off very well, and was always struggling to find some rhythm, and never really got going. It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow, to accept that I came away from Beijing without playing my best, which I’d promised to do. When you’ve seen yourself do something in your head so many times, and it doesn’t happen, I guess it takes a while to get over.

When we heard that Abhinav Bindra had won gold in his event, it gave us such a big boost. Just knowing that he’d done so well made us feel like we could as well. Everyone was very happy of course, and we had a small printout congratulating him stuck on our IOA office door.

Another worthwhile thing to talk about was Saina Nehwal’s run to the quarters. She has been an inspiration to all of us in the last few years. She got through a couple of rounds before beating Wang Chen in a very good match. Unfortunately, she missed out in the quarters after being up by quite a bit, but it’s hard to think what she had done wrong. Her opponent Yulianti played unbelievably to get through that match.

To wrap up, I think being in such an event lets you know where you are in comparison with everyone else in the world, and how hard you need to work to get to their level. I think the way the Chinese went about their business, in every sport, was fantastic. I hope we are able to put up a good show in Delhi in two years’ time at the Commonwealth Games. All of us athletes are working very hard towards ensuring a good result. I hope our administrators and officials do the same and organise a great event.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Working with Tom John

AS some of you may know, I’ve hired a personal coach, Tom John, for six months leading up to the Olympics. I’ve been working with him for a little over two months now. The official list of qualifiers for the Olympics is out and I’m on it, so we’re training and looking to peak at the Olympics.

I’d been thinking about hiring a personal coach for a while now. I felt that since the World Championships last August, I hadn’t really continued on the same path and was beginning to stagnate. There were, of course, some things that were out of my control, like the injury to my foot, which started to get really bad around September/October last year. But I still felt like I needed to shake things up a bit and try something different. I had a couple of people in mind who I wanted to work with. Of course, ideally I would have either Prakash Padukone or Vimal Kumar travel with me, but since they have to take care of the academy, that wasn’t a possibility. I’d talked to Jim Laugesen, a former player from Denmark, about the possibility of training with him and he was quite keen on it. I’d also worked with Tom John over brief periods some years ago and I thought he could also help me. In the end, I went with Tom John because I needed to be based in India in this period leading up to the Olympics and he was better suited to Indian conditions, having been in India many times in the past.

We had a mixed sort of start as a team. I had an ordinary German and All England Open but was beginning to play better and better towards the end of my stay at the All England. As it turned out, I beat Shoji Sato of Japan in the first round in the Swiss Open. I did’nt start out very well and was down 14-19 in the first. I was able to really raise my level from then on and equalised at 19-19. He got a net cord at that stage and went up to 20-19 but I was feeling quite good having won a few points in a row and I went on to win the game at 22-20. I dropped the second game but recovered in time to take the third.

I felt good about my next round against Taufik as I’d beaten him the last time we played. But I got injured in the first game itself. It felt quite strange, I’d never been injured before and one moment I was playing and the next I felt and heard a loud snap in my left foot. I couldn’t put my foot down at all after that and had to concede. I had a strange plane ride back to Bangalore on a wheelchair, and crutches where there was no ramp for the wheelchair.

Since recovering from the injury, I’ve mostly been doing weight training for the upper body and a lot of cycling since I didn’t want to risk injuring the foot further. I’ve been amazed at how without running or playing Tom has managed to keep me fit through the last few weeks. I’ve just started to play again and I feel a bit stronger and fitter. It’ll take a couple more weeks before the physical work that I’ve done is translated to the court but when it does, I’ll be better than before.

So, as of now, the plan is to work more on physical conditioning for the next two weeks or so and then get on to more on court work. I’ll write another update in a few weeks’ time :)


Friday, March 21, 2008

Anup Sridhar ranked career-high No. 24 in the World

According to the latest world rankings released by BWF yesterday, Anup Sridhar contiues to be the top Indian player at No. 24 (34342 points). Anup shot up 5 places from last week thanks to his performance at the Swiss Open. Prior to this Anup had reached No. 25 in November last year.

Click here to check the world rankings.

Anup Sridhar engages veteran badminton coach Tom John

Anup Sridhar, India's top badminton player, has recently signed on veteran badminton coach Tom John as his personal traveling coach. John comes with over two decades of coaching experience in the UK and on international badminton circuits ...

Click here for the official press release.

Wilson Swiss Open Super Series 2008

In the first round, Anup Sridhar, the lone Indian male in the main draw, beat World No. 17 Shoji Sato from Japan. Anup now leads the Head-to-head 3:2.

In the first game, Anup trailed 14-19 at one stage but came back strong to win five points in succession, when it mattered most, to level the game at 19-19. The momentum was clearly in Anup's favor at that point and he went on to wrap up the first game 22-20. In the second game, Shoji got the early momentum on his side, by winning the first five points, and used that to wrap up the game 13-21. In the decider, the tables turned and Anup got the early momentum. He used it to stay well ahead of Shoji throughout the game and eventually wrapped up the game and match 21-14.

In the second round, Anup Sridhar (29) played World No. 7 Taufik Hidayat. Twelve minutes into the first game, with the score reading 11-9 in Taufik's favor, Anup injured his foot and was forced to retire.

Anup’s next tournament is the India Open Grand Prix Gold at Hyderabad from 1-6th April.