From a heart-breaking rejection to a golden podium finish, life has sure come a long way for Sukant Kadam. His determination and optimism have inspired the entire nation. Various ups and downs, dejections, lack of support; obstacles were many. But Sukant faced all with unprecedented strength.
Here’s Sukant Kadam’s amazing journey…
27 (as of 2020)
Date of Birth
9th May 1993
Mr. Gaurav Khanna
Gold, Spanish Para-badminton Championships
Sukant Kadam Biography
Hailing from Sangli in Maharashtra, Sukant Kadam was obsessed with cricket as a child, like most Indian boys. The fame and prestige associated with the game attracted him towards it. Ironically, his life took a twisted turn on a cricket field itself. He was just ten years old then, enjoying a game of cricket with his friends when he fell and injured his left leg on the field. Sukant ignored the injury and hid it from his parents.
The Serious Injury
Unfortunately, the infection spread and his injury turned serious. Numerous surgeries followed, and Sukant slowly recuperated. However, he couldn’t bend his left knee anymore. For the next few years, on the insistence of his parents, Sukant decided to focus on his studies solely. He didn’t play any sport.
After finishing his 12th std exams, Sukant decided to opt for Engineering. He pursued Mechanical Engineering from Government College of Engineering and Research Avasari, Pune. During this phase, he developed an interest in badminton. However, due to his left leg injury, Sukant could not qualify in his college team’s selections.
“I was not selected for the college team because my movement was very slow, according to them. I was disappointed and started playing seriously for a year and got a chance. This was how my career started,” said Sukant in an interview.
Not the one to lose hope, he continued playing badminton with corporate people and even hired a coach. Despite the hectic engineering schedule, he always found time to pursue his new-found dream. After finishing his studies, he started training under Pune-based coach Nikhil Kanetkar and later shifted to Hyderabad to learn from the very best – P Gopichand.
Sukant Kadam Career
Para-badminton brought a new lease of hope in Sukant’s life. His passion turned into his dream. Around the year 2012, Sukant started focusing on professional para-badminton. He found inspiration in Girish Gowda, a talented para-badminton player.
He first shone at the India-multi-sports tournament organized by the Rotary Club. Winning the gold medal at this event gave him a big morale boost. He realised that he was destined for bigger things, and started focusing on preparing for the nationals.
In 2014, he also participated in the England Championships. Many stalwarts noticed his progress. The real turning point of his life was when he joined Nikhil Kanetkar Badminton Academy in Pune.
In 2016, he won his first international medal, a bronze at the FZ Forza Irish Para-Badminton Championships. He followed it with another bronze at the Asian Championships held in China. His hat-trick of bronze medals continued with another one at the Spanish Para-Badminton Championships in 2017.
Golden Moment of Sukant Kadam’s Career
The cherry on the cake was his stunning gold medal at the 2018 Spanish Para-badminton Championships. At the 2017 Para-Badminton tournament he won 2 silver medals. Sukant once again clinched the gold at the Uganda Para-Badminton International 2018.
He also won top laurels in the doubles category. In April 2018, Sukant’s BWF ranking reached number 2. His silver medal at the Dubai Para-Badminton International instantly lifted his ranking.
“To be ranked No.2 is a huge feat. It makes our academy proud of the fact that we are doing the right thing. Sukant is a focused player, and going forward; we will be looking into getting more exposure for Sukant in our mission,” NKBA director and head coach Nikhil Kanetkar was quoted by Hindustan Times.
In a very short period of time, Sukant has established himself as the very best in Para-badminton. He has numerous milestones to look forward to, and at the pace and determination he is moving ahead, we can just wait and watch.
Playing Style of Sukant Kadam
As a result of his left leg injury, Sukant cannot bend his leg. He has developed his playing style accordingly. Sukant cannot cover the left side of the court, but his strong right leg helps him lunge and defend. He can push his body forward and anticipate the shuttle very well. He has developed his backhand stroke by taking advantage of his body strength.
The Tweet that Brought Sukant Kadam into Spotlight
Honorable @narendramodi sir,
We Para Badminton Athletes also won 12 medals in Para-Badminton World Championship and we also want your blessings.Request you to allow us to meet as we missed a chance aftr Asian Games@PramodBhagat83 @joshimanasi11
@manojshuttler @GauravParaCoach https://t.co/1zCqE91VAh
— Sukant Kadam (@sukant9993) August 27, 2019
After PV Sindhu became the first Indian shuttler to win the BWF World Championships in 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed her to his office. He followed that with a tweet stating how the country was proud of her achievements. However, in the same competition, Indian Para-badminton athletes had won 12 medals. But they didn’t receive equal appreciation from the PM.
Sukant made it a point to let the Prime Minister know about this. In a reply to PM’s PV Sindhu tweet, Sukant wrote, “Honourable Narendra Modi Sir, We Para-Badminton Athletes also won 12 medals in Para-Badminton World Championship and we also want your blessings. Request you to allow us to meet as we missed a chance after Asian Games.”
His tweet soon went viral, receiving 29k likes. The resultant was mind-blowing – the Prime Minister took note of his request and posted a tweet the next day congratulating all the 12 Para athletes.
130 crore Indians are extremely proud of the Indian Para Badminton contingent, which has brought home 12 medals at BWF World Championships 2019.
Congratulations to the entire team, whose success is extremely gladdening and motivating. Each of these players is remarkable!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 28, 2019
Lack of Support
Sukant has had to struggle a lot, right from the beginning of his career. Even after reaching the number 2 position, he hasn’t found the financial support he deserves. He has constantly found support from Nikhil Kanetkar Badminton Academy.
For his international tournaments, he faced a lot of financial obstacles as the accommodation and travel were very expensive. Thankfully, Edelweiss supported him through this period.
“Government should support the top-ranked players and help them financially for the tournaments only, even if they don’t offer lucrative schemes. If the World No.2 player is suffering from sponsorship and getting accommodation money, it’s very unfortunate,” the shuttler was quoted by media.
Social Media: Sukant Kadam
"A good coach can change a game, Great coach can change a life"
Thank you so much for all the support and help @GauravParaCoach sir. your guidance is invaluable to me. Wishing you a very happy birthday and a fantastic year ahead! @ParalympicIndia pic.twitter.com/VeTB5MDdTx
— Sukant Kadam (@sukant9993) December 11, 2019
Sukant has been unfortunate when it comes to government support or funding; however, his coaches have always firmly stood behind him.
“Great things never come from your comfort zone.”
Fully focused towards getting myself in the perfect shape for the next season! #MondayMotivation #DreamOfTokyo #SukantsSmash pic.twitter.com/OfVaa7f5dk
— Sukant Kadam (@sukant9993) December 9, 2019
Truly an inspiration for all, Sukant has time and again proved that the determination to fight back destiny can take a person to great heights.
Visited the #SaiBaba temple in Shirdi with my parents, to seek blessing. Thanked lord for all the good and learnings over the last year!
Also said a prayer for all our heroes who lost their lives fighting the heartless terrorists during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai! #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/V3E1mAxMMU
— Sukant Kadam (@sukant9993) November 26, 2019
Sukant’s parents have always supported his endeavours.
Enjoyed the starry nights in the Land of the Rising Sun. Lovely country that id love to go back to! But, for now, enjoying some time back home with family and friends. #Japan #TuesdayThoughts pic.twitter.com/NOgoFl6L4h
— Sukant Kadam (@sukant9993) November 19, 2019
— Sukant Kadam (@sukant9993) October 17, 2019
View this post on Instagram
Holding the tricolour after a medal win! Moments like these that we strive for every day. #Throwback to the #AsianParaBadmintonChampionships 2016. #DreamOfTokyo #SukantsSmash . . . . #parasports #paralympics #badminton #parabadminton #sport #japan #india #indian #igdaily #instadaily #comment #follow #growth #fitness #workout #health #knockout #goals #smash #media #tokyo #medal #lucknow #hope
The road ahead may not be easier, but Sukant has more strength and support now. He was recently included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) by the government that aims to boost Olympic prospects of Indian athletes.
Along with financial assistance, the initiative offers the best training to top athletes. Under the guidance of Head Coach, Gaurav Khanna, Sukanthas polished his skills even further. Moreover, he also got the opportunity to train with the very best in the country. Edelweiss is also supporting Sukant in his Tokyo Olympic Mission.