When he was in school, India’s Krishna Nagar felt left out of many activities with his classmates. “There were so many sports I couldn’t do but I realised I could run fast so I would practise sprints all the time. Then I found badminton,” said Nagar, now the world No.2 in men’s singles Short Stature (SH6).
Nagar was born in Jaipur, India. “By the time I was two, my family realised I was not growing normally but now badminton has given me a chance to achieve something for myself and my family. It allows me to test my abilities to the fullest. I can jump really high and I run fast,” said Nagar, who is known for his speed and agility, and boundless energy on court.
Encouraged by a cousin, Nagar started playing badminton about six years ago and it became a recreational pastime with his able-bodied friends. He took it up seriously in 2017 and started competing as part of the Indian team in 2018.
Since discovering the sport, badminton has become his priority, yet, never more so than this year, the year of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics where Para badminton will be included on the Paralympic programme for the first time.
Nagar started the Paralympic qualification year in 2019 with a burst of the same energy he displays in all his matches.
At the 2nd Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2019, he cited his gold medal win as the biggest of his career, after he took out world No.1 Jack Shephard of England in the semifinals and the then world No.2 Krysten Coombs of England in the finals. He then partnered India’s Raja Magotra to win the men’s doubles SH6 gold.
At the TOTAL BWF Para Badminton World Championships in Basel in August 2019, Nagar’s rather lacklustre performance was only good for a third place in the singles. He and Magotra lost the doubles as well, settling for silver.
Barely a month later, Nagar came back with vengeance, winning the men’s singles gold at the Thailand Para Badminton International 2019 against Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kei, but again, he and Magotra lost in the doubles finals.
“It’s hard playing doubles and singles at each tournament. I get really tired sometimes because I play two or three matches a day,” he said.
It’s not something he has to worry about in Tokyo, however, as only the men’s singles SH6 event has been included in the Paralympic schedule. “I can focus on the singles because winning gold in Tokyo will be a special honour.”
At the last tournament of 2019, the HULIC Daihatsu Japan Para Badminton International in November, Nagar, who is currently second in the Race to Tokyo rankings, said of his gold medal winning performance: “It’s a big tournament and an important win because it gives me a chance to play in the venue where the Paralympics will be held in 2020.”
With a 10-hour daily training schedule, what little time left is spent with friends and family. “That’s OK. Badminton is my life and for now the only thing that matters is the Paralympics.”