Sukant’s date with Uganda
Has memory-filled moments tagged with every title he won in the country
PUNE: India’s para-badminton athlete Sukant Kadam has found Uganda to be a happy hunting ground. To best understand and unfold this correlation, the fact is of the eight career titles he bagged, including 1 in doubles, four came from this landlocked East African country.
Well, that's fifty percent!
Ask Sukant if he ‘loves’ the country that has led to a good performance and with a laugh he answers quickly, “no siiir… Nothing like that… it’s just the way it is.”
In winning the men’s singles SL 4 title at the Uganda Para-Badminton International 2021 - incidentally his eighth – Sukant recounts that every title has a special remembrance.
His first career title - men’s singles - back in 2017 was when the tournament was incepted. In the following year (2018) he bagged his first twin-gold medals of his career. The recent 2021 for Sukant would best be remembered for the suicide bombing that took place close to the hotel they were put up in Kampala. The title was also special after a two-year gap that had CoVid-19 restrict the international badminton calendar.
“These are special memories that I cherish and remember,” says Sukant, who recounts that he was not scheduled to play on the opening day of the championship and heard the explosions when in his room.
“Our source of updated info was the local television channels and rumours by a dime and dozen. Yes, unsettling it was, but we were assured of safety and that the tournament will go on.”
Looking back in time, Sukant, who trains at the Balewadi-based Nikhil Kanetkar Badminton Academy, has always justified his No.1 seeding whenever he played in Uganda.
In 14 singles matches that Sukant has figured enroute his three titles, he has only lost 2 games, Incidentally, both were in the summit clash in 2017 and 2021 respectively when he faced country men Anand Kumar Boregowda and Nilesh Balu Gaikwad respectively. The 2018 doubles title with Umesh Vikram Kumar came without dropping a single game.
Interestingly, in 2017 (partnering Umesh Vikram Kumar) and 2021 (partnering Nitesh Kumar), Sukant finished runners-up in the doubles event and a gold-silver takeaway.
As far as Sukant’s 2021 season is concerned his singles campaign reads gold in Uganda and a silver in the 3rd Dubai Para-Badminton International (lost to Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Frenchman Lucas Masur). His doubles report card reads two silvers.
With the season done with, Sukant’s win in Uganda will enable him to move into a No. 4 World Ranking. Prior to the tournament, he was No.5.
Ask Sukant about what he regrets most in the season gone by, he quickly responds, “not qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics… I was so close yet so far. An experience that will always be missed. However, it is now to rebuild and catch up on the lost ground that is on my mind. The mission is not to miss Paris 2024 and I am working on it.”
Men’s Singles, SL 4, Seeded No 1:
Fs: Nilesh Gaikwad (India) 21-16, 17-21, 21-10 [ 38 min ]
SF: b Guillaume Gailly (France) 21-11, 21-19 [ 20 min ]
QF: b Girisha H Nagrajgowda (India) 21-8, 21-2 [ 13 mins ]
R2: b Ousmane Habi Adamou (Nigeria) 21-4, 21-5 [ 18 mins ]
R1: b Julius Obura (Uganda) 21-5, 21-3 [ 22 mins ]
Men’s Doubles; SL 3 SL 4; Seeded No. 2 (partnered Nitesh Kumar)
Fs: b Mohammad Arwaz Ansari/ Deep Ranjan Bisoyee (India) 14-21, 24-22, 21-15
SF: b Ilia Antonenko/ Davide Posenato (Russia) 21-14, 21-16
QF: b Hassan Kamoga/ Lawrence Lumiisa (Uganda) 21-2, 21-5
R1: b Dillaswar Rao Gadela/ Nilesh Balu Gaikwad (India) 21-12, 21-9
SL 4: Athletes in this sport class have a lesser impairment; they generally run faster and have better balance. These athletes play full-court. You might expect to see athletes with impairment in one or both lower limbs, unilateral polio or mild cerebral palsy.