India’s Sukant Kadam took the bronze medal in the men’s singles Standing Lower (SL4) category at the TOTAL BWF Para Badminton World Championships in 2019. The 26-year-old considers this medal to be one of two major milestones of his career. The other being ranked second in the world last year. No easy feat.
From Koutholi, India, Kadam initially played cricket from a young age, but an injury at the age of ten forced him off the pitch and his father told him to stay away from sports. “When I was 10, I was playing cricket in the gully (lane) and I fell when I was trying to catch the ball. I fell on my left knee,” he said.
Kadam ignored the pain for fear of reprisal but two weeks later his knee began to swell. His parents took Sukant to the hospital where a doctor saved his leg so he could at least walk, but a slight impairment to the movement in his left knee remained.
Some years later, Kadam took up badminton socially at Engineering College after he turning back invites to play indoor sitting sports such as chess or carom. It was a wise choice as he threw himself into playing badminton while continuing to study for his degree.
A key turning point was his victory at a national tournament soon after. Now everyone was watching. “When I played in my first national event, I won. People started to appreciate me a lot. They didn’t appreciate me when I got good results, but they appreciated me when I got the gold medal. The principal was so happy, he said ‘keep going, we will help you’.”
Coupled with his love of badminton and inspiration from watching India’s Girish N. Gowda claim a silver medal in high jump at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, he wanted to play more badminton. Sukant used this positive message to charge forward with a badminton career, wanting to dedicate the next two to three years on becoming a Paralympian.
However, his parents urged him not to forget his career either. “Okay, you can try [badminton] but you better you have a job as well as that’s necessary for your life,” his mother would say. “When I started to win international medals and got so much exposure, the government offered me a civil service job. My father said, ‘okay, now that you have a job, you can continue in badminton’.”
Kadam is incredibly grounded and thankful for the support he has received from his parents and the BWF. But life isn’t just all about badminton for Kadam.
“I love food. I just can’t say no to biryani. I really like Hyderabadi biryani. As for other cuisines, when I went to Japan for training, I tried sushi, tempura and these kinds of foods. It was really nice. I really liked the food.
“I also love watching movies. Avengers End Game is my favourite because I’m a big fan of Marvel and I’ve watched all the Marvel movies.”
We wish Sukant all the best on his journey to next year’s Paralympic Games.