-Paromita Sengupta (Bengaluru)
A South-Eastern Railway employee and trainee at Bengaluru’s world-class Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA), Mithun Manjunath is making waves on the international badminton circuit.
In the Super Series 100 tournament of the Badminton World Federation staged in Orleans (France) in April, this 23-year-old, ranked #74 internationally, scored a stunning victory over world #22 Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus (Denmark) in the quarters to reach his first international final.
Although Mithun eventually lost to local favourite Toma Junior Popov, he draws considerable comfort from his performance which gave top-ranked global players a close run. “Playing against veteran players has given me valuable experience. My game’s getting stronger,” he says.
Earlier in January, he reached the semi-finals of the Syed Modi International Super 300 championship and the quarters of the Odisha Super 100. Moreover last December, he won four All India titles including the All India Senior Ranking Badminton tournament.
The only child of S. Manjunath, institutional manager of Raman & Weil Pvt. Ltd, and homemaker S. Veena, Mithun attributes his success to sustained family support and quality coaching. “From the beginning, my parents never imposed any pressure to give up sports for studies. They accepted that missing some classes to accommodate tournaments was unavoidable,” says Mithun, who enrolled in the National Institute of Open Schooling to complete his Plus Two and later graduated in psychology from the Karnataka State Open University. “Moreover, my coaches — Korea’s Young Soung, Vimal Kumar and Sagar Chopda — helped me improve my play and court-craft,” he adds.
Introduced to the game at age seven (2005) when he was enrolled in a beginners’ camp of the Malleswaram Badminton Association, Mithun soon began winning club tournaments and quickly graduated to district and state-level tournaments in which he bagged the U-10 and U-15 championships.
Unsurprisingly, this young shuttler’s top priority is to don India colours. “Although I fell short in the trials of the Asian Games 2022, I will make strenuous efforts to live my dream to participate and win a medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics,” says Mithun, who was recently selected for the Grand Prix Badminton League’s Malnad Falcons at a maximum auction price of Rs.3.5 lakh.
Power to your racquet, Bro!