The year 2016 has been a revelation about how far the Indian badminton coffers extend, both in the women’s and men’s circuits. The latest name to be added to this continuously expanding list is that of the hitherto unknown Sameer Verma, who grabbed the biggest success – so far – of his career, at the Hong Kong Open, last week.

Playing in his first Super Series final, the Dhar native, who’s yet another product of what’s by now come to be a fabled establishment, the Gopichand Academy, showed his mettle in each of his performances. Including in the final on Sunday that he lost to NG Ka Long Angus, in three games.

His prodigiousness with the racquet aside, it’s however the 22-year-old’s equanimity in being able to accept his defeat with the same composure as his wins that’s gives the viewer a deeper perspective about Verma.


“I’m feeling good now, but before starting the tournament (the Hong Kong Open) I didn’t expect I would reach the final,” opened up Verma, in an exclusive chat to, after his triumphant week at the Hong Kong Open.

Swift as his words were, in retrospect, it does feel as if he made it look easy on the court throughout the week. The highlight of his week was of course, the upset of the World No. 3, Jan O. Jorgensen in the semi-final.

It was the most important takeaway for Verma from the tournament as it was the biggest match win of his career. But for Verma, it was merely a routine match-up. “I just wanted to play my game,” he began, talking about his win over the third-ranked Dane. “I didn’t think about beating the World No. 3. I just thought both of us would play our games and the best player would win.”


Performance and confidence in tandem

One area that Verma feels that’s he’s improved in, as a result of his good showing in Hong Kong has been a boost to his confidence, for his next tournament. Starting at the Macau Open Grand Prix tournament this week, where the soft-spoken Verma will start his campaign against Czech player Milan Ludik.

Even as the feel-good aura surrounding him keeps on expanding, Verma’s focus has however shifted to emulating or even bettering his Hong Kong Open feat in Macau. “I have got the confidence to do well in the upcoming events. I have prepared well for my first match in Macau.”

As the tournament gets underway, Verma will continue to reap the bounty of his Hong Kong Open run with a gain in the rankings. Now ranked 43rd in the world, his rankings are expected to soar, come this Thursday when they are updated.

Verma though, thinks differently and opined as much. “I should break into the top-30 when the rankings come out. I, however believe that rankings don’t matter much. I am focused on the tournaments. I want to do my best and give my best in every tournament that I play. Rankings will improve if my performance is good.”

The Gopichand Academy factor

And, for a player, who’s been battered by injuries time-and-again, it’s understandable why Verma is keen to improve his performances instead of being distracted by the pull of rankings. At the Gopichand Academy, his eagerness to do well is being substantially moulded and monitored by the team of committed coaches.

Talking about what makes the Academy so special, Verma mentioned, “The atmosphere (in the Academy) is very focused. The coaches are there from 4.30 am to 1.30 pm and then again in the evening, from 4.00 PM. Since they are there full-time, we get the support we need from our coaches.”

Strengthened by the support system at the Gopichand Academy and the GoSports Foundation as he is, Verma’s primary cornerstone is his elder brother, Saurabh Verma, a fellow shuttler.

Having a brother, who’s also in the sport could be tricky with comparisons being drawn between the siblings. This isn’t the case for the Verma siblings, with Sameer putting forth, “On-court we are competitors, but off-court we have no rivalry. I regularly talk to my brother, even during tournaments.”

Maturity breeds its own success

Wrapping up the conversation, rather than engage in suppositions about the future, Verma talked about how he was able to mount a comeback in the sport in spite of being side-lined by injuries.

He made quite a pertinent point, one that can be applied to all athletes, hampered by injuries, irrespective of their sporting background. “It does feel that you have taken a step back after injuries. But if you keep a positive mindset, it’s easier to comeback. When you are injured, it’s easy to think, “Why me?” and develop negative thoughts. It’s important to stay focused.”

Often, age becomes a deceptive marker about one’s maturity. The same can be said about Sameer Verma, who’s ready to take on every challenge that comes his way – both on and off court – and come out stronger, each and every time.