Image Credits: Fisto staff
Having fallen in love with the sport, Shika Gautam who picked her racket as a nine-year-old is still on a relentless hunt to live her dream.
Driven by the passion for the sport and motivated by the support rendered by her parents the 21-year-old, donning her own style at the court, is all in to give it all to make her cut into the Top 10 World Doubles rankings.
Lead on by a piece of good luck, she believes to have worked wonders for her, the National No.1 ranked doubles player, leads us through her sporting journey in an exclusive interview with Fisto sports.
At what age did you start in Badminton?
I started playing the sport when I was 9 years old.
When did you say: yes, I will dedicate myself to badminton?
I have always loved this sport. I was fascinated by the sport and it was then that I realized my inbound passion. My passion and fascination keeps growing with the days.
Were your parents supportive from the very beginning or your talent and performance in the initial tournaments shaped their opinion?
My parents have been my pillar of support. They rendered immense support and had my back right from the git-go. When I started performing well, it was their support that motivated me to push harder and aim to make it to higher levels.
How would you describe your playing style, and which shuttler would you compare it to?
Every shuttler dons their own style and so do I. I have my own style by nature. I neither try to imitate anybody else’s style nor get into a comparison with anybody else.
Your badminton idol growing up?
The Chinese great Lin Dan, who is a five-time World Champion has been my idol and inspiration growing up.
I'm sure there are times during your training that you aren't achieving the results that you want. What do you do to lift your spirits during such times?
Giving up is not my thing. I don’t like retreating from my targets, I try and try until I get where I want to. Visualizing helps me lift my spirits and motivates me to keep going during those times.
Many players have routines, habits and superstitions when the travel and play badminton. Do you have any individual quirky things you do before a game or special items you carry with you in your bag that must go with you everywhere?
Yes, I do. I listen to music and watch some videos before every game. I always carry a stone embedded with crystals and a silver ring whenever I travel for a tournament. I believe it brings in good luck for me.
Can you name a few international players, current or retired, who you regard as best or famous for a specific technique or an area of skills?
Yes. Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, Tai Tzu Ying, Saina Nehwal , Ratchanok Intanon , Wang Yihan are some of the players are always on my list of favourites. I would regard them as the best players.
Do you think the recent success of players like PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal etc has helped raise the standards of Badminton across the nation? Do they help out players or set out better guidelines for the BAI to follow?
Definitely. Badminton was nowhere in India a few years ago. I completely attribute their achievements to have earned the sport the rapid fame it relishes today in the country. They have not only made the sport famous in India but they also have raised the standard of Indian badminton amongst world countries.
What exactly do you think you need right now to be able to live your dream of breaking within the world top 10 in the doubles?
To get into Top 10, I need to play a maximum number of 8-10 International tournaments in a year. So I'm looking for sponsorship support to play these International tournaments which could help make it to the 2024 Olympics.
On your playing career so far, which was the highlight of your career?
I would consider clinching the doubles title at the Senior National Championship with my partner Ashwini Bhat last year was the best win in my career thus far.
What junk food do you like the most but have to force yourself not to eat?
Which do you prefer?
How does participation in badminton or sports generally benefit other areas of life?
Badminton has helped me harness my mental fitness. It has imbibed a lot of confidence in me and has boosted my concentration level and helps me focus on things I want. It has also moulded me to become relentless by nature, and added “Never Give Up” attitude to my life be it any pursuit.
What’ your next competition?
I can’t say anything at the moment as COVID-19 is forcing change of plans.
D.O.B: 18th April 1998
College: Jain University