Inhalers are as integral to his kit as racquets but stringent anti-doping rules meant that asthmatic Indian shuttler P. Kashyap battled his breathing problems without some key medicines before clinching the men's singles bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Kashyap, who beat the higher-ranked Malaysian Mohammad Hafiz before losing to England's Rajiv Ouseph in the semifinals, defeated compatriot Chetan Anand in the bronze medal play-off.
But during the campaign, Kashyap had to avoid some regular medicines he takes for his breathing problems due to the World Anti-Doping Agency's stringent code.
“Because of WADA rules, we cannot give him all his medicines as we did not want to take any kind of risk related to his career.
“During tournaments, including the CWG, he did not take his medicines and fought against it. He is a brave child,” Kashyap's father Uday Shankar told PTI.
The Kashyaps, in fact, go on to reveal that they never thought their son would be able to pursue the sport after being diagnosed with asthma five years ago.
“I used to travel with him for his trainings or tournaments. But he always used to fall sick. He never overcomes sneezing and breathing problems. We then consulted a chest specialist Dr. K.J.R. Murthy, who told us that he has asthma,” Kashyap's mother Subhadra said.
“We were worried because he was diagnosed to be in the second stage of asthma. And we thought he would not play anymore,” she said.
“Every year we have to get the TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) certificate from WADA. We have to renew his certificate. He has to undergo tests and produce medical certificates. It is tough, but we are used to it now,” she said.
Kashyap trained in Bangalore for three years when he started out on the court and his parents say the stint proved to be disastrous as he ended up aggravating his condition.
Shift to Hyderabad
“He used to train in Bangalore between 2000 and 2003. But he was never well. We then shifted to Hyderabad and he trained under S.M. Arif before getting under the tutelage of national coach Pullela Gopi Chand. After that the situation improved and he started feeling better,” Uday Shankar said.
Such was his passion for the sport that Subhadra said her son gave up on engineering.
“He (Kashyap) used to get up at 3.30 a.m. for a training starting at 4.30 a.m. He is very hard-working and never compromises with his game even though he is unwell,” she recalled.
“After he got admitted to an engineering college in 2004, he came and told me one day... ‘Amma, this is not my cup of tea.'
“We were upset about this as we were not sure how much the sport would give him.
“But he assured me, ‘Amma do not worry, I will make you proud one day.'
“I am happy that now he has not just made us proud but also the whole country,” said Subhadra.