Abhinav Thyagarajan is a young, lanky squash player from Mumbai’s SIES College of Arts, Science, and Commerce, who is looking to enter the big leagues in the near future.But don’t let his appearances deceive you as he is as aggressive as Kolhi once inside the squash court. He also has a dote on stand-up comedy as he wants to be one. Abhinav also attributes a lot of his success and balance of sports and studies to his mother, claiming she was a huge inspiration to him. Life is treating Abhinav very well at the moment, but he’s definitely having a long way to go before breaking into the big scene. He believes there is always room for improvement and he’s in the process to achieve it. We look forward to seeing great things from Abhinav and we’d like to introduce him with a Q&A:
What’s the worst mistake you’ve made on the field and how did you deal with it?
Mistakes are made by humans. I don’t think I’m a human being once I step into the court. I’m an animal who runs behind the ball and squashes it.
How do you balance sports and studies?
All cheers to my mother. She’s the one who handles everything in my life. As a person, I’m very messy and she’s the one who takes care of my mess. She makes the timetable for me on when I need to study and when I need to go for my training session. And just like an employee who follows his boss’s orders, I follow my mother’s timetable.
If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of another athlete, who would it be and what would you do?
That sounds very interesting. Virat Kohli. How about that? The run machine playing squash and becomes the trophy machine. He has got everything a sports player needs. Aggression, fitness and all. Just wake up in his body, wear his brand clothes, and drive in some amazing car of his and at the end of the day, dance to Punjabi Music and have a nice sound sleep. Life set!
What is one habit that you want to break, or you have broken?
One habit I’ve broken is sleeping early. I often get less amount of sleep due to college assignments and other stuff. I seriously need to get back to my original sleep routine and be fit.
Any pre-match, post-match rituals you follow?
Before my match starts, I listen to this song called ‘Hum tohUdd Gaye’ by Ritviz. That one song sets my mood before play. After the match, I drink fresh lime and do some stretching.
One win/loss that you are very proud of?
I was playing my 2nd round at CCI National Circuit. I was 2-0 down. But I just kept on hitting my shots thinking that I can get the match if I push my limits. I fought back and won the match 3-2. I’m proud of that win.
What would be your ultimate achievement?
Sounds as cliché as it gets but my ultimate achievement is to represent India for Squash at the Olympics.
How will you want to be known 10 years from now?
An ex-computer science student who is also a stand-up comedian who turns into a beast when inside a squash court.
In what area of your game do you think you need to improve?
There is no such thing called as a perfectionist in this game. Everybody explores something when they play and tries to improve on that part. I have a huge room for improvement on all four corners of the court and a lot more to explore when inside the court.
What are the hurdles you faced and how did you tackle them?
Injuries are the hurdles. One big hurdle I faced was some months ago when I had gotten a stomach injury. I couldn’t play properly as it used to hurt while running. I took a two-week rest, got it cured and then resumed.
The perks of being an athlete
Being an athlete has its own set of perks. According to me, the most important perk of being an athlete is being responsible and committed. You are responsible enough to know what is right and what is wrong as it’d affect your career in sports. Moreover, you’re committed to your sport and wouldn’t do anything wrong. People crave for commitments in today’s world, don’t they?
If you could get a tattoo, what would it be?
I’m not really into tattoos so I wouldn’t be having any.
Your short and long-term goals
I don’t believe in short-term goals. Long-term goals are fun as you are required to put in extra efforts and the result of it would be very satisfying. My long-term goal is to be totally fit and keep playing at-least till the age of 50
What’s on your bucket list?
What if my bucket overflows? I have a lot on my bucket list. One of them is to make squash reach every corner of this country.
Your plans & preparations for the Olympics
I had always wondered how it would feel to represent the country in Olympics. But at the moment, I’m just ruthlessly preparing and improving my game hoping that I’d get selected for the Olympics.
One superpower you wish you had, how would you use it?
One superpower! I like travelling so if I had a technique called Instant Transmission, I can travel to places in an instant. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Who do you think is the greatest Indian athlete of all time?
I’ve grown up in Squash watching Egypt’s Mohamed El Shorbagy. Oh boy, he’s the beast in Squash. He always has a great season winning tournaments and being stuck to the World Number 1. spot like Fevi-quick. That never give up attitude he has, that’s my type.
One message to your opponents?
You’re in for a rollercoaster ride, buddy.
Your biggest inspiration?
My father is my biggest inspiration. I often call him the redefinition of optimism and tenacity. I’m that person who loses hope at times after a bad game or something. He’s the one who has been constantly pushing me to move ahead in the game. He’s an ex-table tennis player and his table tennis stories are the trampoline to what I’m now, in this game.
Your biggest achievements so far?
I don’t wish to discriminate achievements as big and small. Every achievement of mine has taught me something and taken me to a greater level.
For Indian Squash team the recently concluded Commonwealth Games has been a decent outing, the mixed doubles team could have clinched Gold in the final if not for the poor officiating, what’s your take on that?
Yes, I felt the refereeing was awful wherein they should have used more technology and the way the officials handled was pretty sickening. The game crowd was supporting the locals and quality of refereeing too did not help our players. Had it not been the shocking decision, or at least the decisions were shared fair then we could have won the gold. It was a daylight robbery, I mean just can’t do that in the final.
Do you feel the officials should have used more technology in the doubles?
Yes, the refereeing in squash has always been debatable. It was used in the singles, but they did not use it much for the doubles. I hope there’s implementation in the doubles event as well in the near future.