My ultimate goal is to become an Olympic champion - Indian badminton star Harsheel Dani


My ultimate goal is to become an Olympic champion - Indian badminton star Harsheel Dani
2021-07-14 10:55 AM
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At just 24 years old, Harsheel Dani has achieved many accolades in his short career. From representing India at the Asian and BWF World Junior Championships, becoming the Under 19 singles champion, finishing runner-up in 2015 Turkey Internationals to reaching the semi-final of the Austrian Open in February 2016, the insatiable taste of glory has made this ace shuttler wanting for more!

In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Indian badminton player Harsheel Dani speaks about taking up badminton, his most special achievement, training under Mr. Uday Pawar, GoSports Foundation, future goals and more!

Q 1) Harsheel, as a professional shuttler who has been playing the sport since 17 years, how were you first introduced to badminton? What motivated you to take up the sport professionally?

I started playing badminton when I was in the senior K.G. I used to accompany my father when he would go to play badminton for fun and one day he asked me if I wanted to play. After that, I started getting interested and used to visit the badminton court everyday. Being a rigid kid, I wanted to join the coaching center as my father had once asked me if I was interested. For any sport, you start taking it professionally at the age of 15 or so because at that age you can judge how you play as a badminton player’s career is short and it lasts until the age of 32 or 33.

Q 2) You have achieved a number of accolades in India and abroad, which achievement is the most special for you and why?

When I won my first international tournament in Ghana, 2018 was the most special and challenging tournament for me. I was coming from the back of a surgery and was under pressure, it was a career threatening injury because my ankle had been reconstructed along with another minor surgery in a space of three months. The recovery phase was also quite short and it was very challenging.

Q 3) Who are the badminton players that you looked up to growing up?

I have always looked up to Lin Dan from China.

Q 4) How has the experience of training under your coach Mr. Uday Pawar been at the Uday Pawar Academy in Mumbai?

He is my first coach under whom I have played badminton. He is like a father to me. I have learned everything under him, from the basics to being a national and international champion. He has always been a guide, supporter and friend. He has always given me the right advice at the right time. Every advice of his that I have followed has resulted in something good.

Q 5) How has the GoSports Foundation supported you in your journey so far?

GoSports has helped me a lot. In the initial phase of my career when I was struggling, GoSports came forward and started supporting me in terms of finances. They helped me connect with the right physio, doctors, and dieticians. They have supported me with the basic requirements that an athlete needs. Even after being from Mumbai, I didn’t have the right connections with anyone. An athlete needs a physio and a dietician, earlier I used to visit the local physios. GoSports had a strong panel of doctors so they helped with all the necessary needs and the support that I required pre and post-surgery. They have helped me in monetary terms as well, like funding my tournaments.

Q 6) What are your goals and ambitions for the future? How do you plan to accomplish them?

My ultimate goal is to be an Olympic champion. I want to do things that no Indian player has done. I want to touch heights where no Indian has ever done, this is something that I always keep in mind. I have been planning my short term goals as of now. I have also suffered from Covid-19. During this pandemic, I am thinking of short term goals only and if I keep achieving the short term goals they will lead to where I want to be. This is what I have been planning with my coach. We have made targets for six months at a time so that I can get back my confidence and I can judge myself, like how strong I am, how fit I am to get back on the court.