A constant presence at the coach’s chair during wife Saina Nehwal’s matches, Indian badminton player Parupalli Kashyap says he is eager to take up full time coaching once he retires from the game.
However, he says retirement is the last thing on his mind right now.
The former world number 6, Kashyap has set a target of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics - which many feel is a tough task for him.
Currently ranked 55, Kashyap -- a 2014 Commonwealth Games champion -- has not reached a semifinal of a top-tier tournament (Super series or Super 500) in close to four years. He reached the 2017 US Open Grand Prix Gold final and also won the Austrian Open International challenge in 2018.
“I enjoy coaching and would love to take it forward in future,” Kashyap said after recording his fourth win, a sublime 21-11, 21-13 triumph, over Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk to enter the quarterfinals of India Open here.
“But I am not done yet (as a player). I want to perform this year and make it to the Olympics again. So, don’t count me out of Olympics. I want to be in contention of a medal and not just participate,” said the Hyderabadi, who had reached the quarterfinals at the London Olympics in 2012.
In 2015, Kashyap was inside top 10 before a series of injuries -- knee, shoulder, hamstring, shin, back, abdomen -- saw his ranking slip and his fortunes dwindle. Now 32, Kashyap is drawing inspiration from the tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to make a comeback.
“It is tough because I’ve been No.1 from my country for a long time. Missing Olympics (2016) was a big drawback for me. I want to give my best and prove myself. I think I have the game and experience, but it’s just about my body being all right for the next few months,” he said.
“Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei have been competitive in the mid 30s and have not retired. And we have seen how Federer and Nadal have been able to make comebacks despite injuries.”
Kashyap no more plays with a strapped shoulder but if he has to come up the ranks, his body has to support him.
“I’m still struggling with my fitness. I can’t lie about it. I have been playing a lot of tournaments. Post injury, 2016 and 2017 were very hard. Even in 2018, I wasn’t getting any kind of rhythm. I am struggling,” he said. “There were two stints where I missed tournaments and practice because of a shin fracture and back pain. I am still struggling.”