Badminton champion – Badri Narayanan

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Badminton champion - Badri NarayananYoung R. Badri Narayanan convinced me of one thing by the end of this interview. That nothing is impossible to achieve in life.

Not that I haven’t heard this before but it was after seeing the 28 year old in action that I believed the belief.

Born with congenital deformity of his right hand, Badri has learnt to use his left with such dexterity that all his other senses as well join in to make him an achiever. He plays the mrudangam with flair, specializes in mimicry, is an athlete and to top them all, a badminton champ.

This Sethupathi High School boy has always been a dreamer. “In my initial years I wanted to become a

Police officer but much later realized my handicap makes me ineligible. It was then that I decided I have to do something different,” he says.

His right hand is twisted at the elbow and as a result his forearm lacks proportionate growth. There is no strength in his right shoulder and hand, which limps and also has only three fingers. Yet, Badri never likes to hear or say ‘no’ to anything that catches his attention.


“All my school teachers took good care of me. Even though I was not eligible for NSS or NCC, seeing my interest they took me on every camp and outing for an exposure,” he recalls. When many a master turned him away, Mr.Janakiraman at Tamil Isaai Sangam agreed to train him in mrudangam seeing his passion. Badri trained himself in the percussion instrument for five years by simply switching the position of the mrudangam from left to right. He has performed at temple festivals and kucheris much to the amazement of all.

“My parents always encouraged me not to look at the handicap as a problem. Though I neither neglected nor gave priority to studies, my financial condition stopped me from pursuing higher studies.”

Badminton happened in his last year in school. “My Physical Education Teacher took me as a substitute player in the school team and observing my knack for the game advised me to go to the Race Course for fitness workouts. That time I was not aware of sports tournaments and facilities available for differently-abled individuals.”

Coach R. Parasuraman (Unheralded Dronacharya, featured in these columns, 10.9.2009) took Badri under his care and trained him in different asanas for fitness. “I used to daily cycle from my home at Othakadai to the Grounds. It took me more than 30 minutes and also drained me. To re-energise myself I had to eat two good fruits and nutritious food and that meant an extra expenditure of Rs.100 daily. It was tough but I was determined to prove myself and with the support of good people like my teachers, coach and family, I tried to overcome all odds.”

When Badri went for the first time to national championships in Bangalore in 2002, he realized his shortcomings as a player. “I did not know the basic techniques of the game. An Arjuna Awardee and the Secretary General of Association of Badminton for Disabled, Mr.Ramesh Tikaram, who watched me play and felt I had the potential, blasted me for an hour telling me how could I play with such ordinary shoes and racket and instantly bought me the items and also advised me to practice in proper court under guidance. He told me about the importance of shuttle picking and movement on the court than just running around and losing stamina.

On his return, Badri met woman entrepreneur Mrs. Rajkumari Jeevagan, who had laid a wooden indoor court at YWCA. “She was kind and allowed me an hour daily afternoon. I used to go there with friends who helped me practice and then to the Race Course Grounds where three coaches, Rajni, Saravanan and Somusundran took him under their tutelage.

Results came soon as at the next national championship in 2003, Badri returned with a bronze medal and from then on participated each year graduating to silver medal and winning single’s championship. And this year (2010), he has returned national champ.

In between he has also been the State Champion in badminton and represented India in eight international tournaments and won laurels. “People have been nice to me all along,” he says with all humility, remembering various individuals who have sponsored him at various points in time. He has also been in and out of jobs resigning each time when denied leave for going to a tournament.

“I have struggled a lot,” he says with a smile. So what keeps him going? I ask. “Vairamuthu’s verses”, he replies. “I have a diary where I jot down his lyrics and have also coined my own motivational slogans which I always carry in my pocket. Whenever I feel down and out, I just sit in a corner and read them,” says Badri, now the Secretary General of Tamil Nadu Badminton Association for Disabled.

“It is important to be enthusiastic about your work, honest and positive, only then good results follow,” he believes. An ardent fan of latest sensation Saina Nehwal, Badri derives his professional inspiration from her. “I watch her keenly observing mistakes of all her opponents and then giving it back. I am still not a professional in that sense. I don’t have much time, money or resources to practice hard. But I know I am blessed and hard work pays and I am waiting for my time.”

Blessed with a son barely a month ago and added family responsibilities, Badri’s going may be tough but he perishes every thought that appear as an obstacle in his path.

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