14-year-old Alluri Siril Verma gains stardom by winning Asian Under-15 badminton singles title

He is back at the venue – Pullela Gopi Chand Academy – where he learnt the basics of badminton. And, for someone who is dreaming to emulate the feats of his idol and ‘guru’, Gopi Chand, 14-year-old Alluri Sri Sai Siril Verma took one big step forward on this very demanding road to stardom by winning the Asian Under-15 singles title recently.

A relaxed and articulate Siril points out that no event, whether national or international, can be taken lightly. “Every match is going to be different, and this time around (he took part in the Asian event twice earlier but did not move past the quarter-finals) the confidence level was high thanks to my recent exposure to the Indian Badminton League (IBL) and sharing of thoughts frequently with the likes of Saina, Sindhu and Kashyap,” says the Glendale Academy student, proudly displaying his gold medal to his parents.

“It is not that I am over-confident, but I knew how I was supposed to play. In the previous editions, honestly, I was not sure when to play the drop or go for the big smashes. Now, I am a more mature player and better equipped, though there is still a lot of scope for improvement,” Siril explains.

Gopi, too, started taking special care the day he realised that the talented youngster had the wherewithal to move up the ladder. “I am comfortable with my speed and smashes, but I have to tighten up my defence and improve upon the stamina,” says Siril.

How important is this win? “I look at this as the beginning as Gopi ‘anna’ emphasised when I spoke to him after my triumph,” he says.

Not far behind is the comparatively shy Garga Krishna Prasad who won bronze in the mixed doubles (partnering Shreya Bose of Kerala) in the same Asian championship. “I cherish this for being my first international title and wish to specialise in doubles,” says the ninth standard student of MSN School in Kakinada.

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