VIJAYAWADA: Rella Sanjeeva Rao, a budding badminton player from Tanuku in West Godavari district who was the top ranker in India’s U-13 age group last year, the first to achieve the feat from the district is hardly 14 but, his accomplishments are spearheading. Despite hailing from an economically weak family, sheer determination has led him to pursue his passion – badminton. His hard work paid dividends by making a mark in the sport.
It wasn’t an easy coup for Sanjeeva Rao as he had lost his father, the breadwinner of his family, at a time when he just began pursuing his love for the game. His mother Rella Annapurna started supporting the family by working at a dairy parlour in the town. With a meagre income of Rs 4,000 per month, which comes to less than Rs 150 per day, she is struggling to make both ends meet.
“It isn’t easy. But his love and dedication for the game are worth giving it a shot. When I learnt that he beat everyone in the national championship to reach the top spot, I forget all the hardship,” Annapurna says with a sense of pride.
When asked how many hours her son spends a day to practise the game, she said, “At least six hours. Two hours in the morning, two at school and two more after school. When there are tournaments, he will practise for two more hours,” shares Annapurna.
Sanjeeva Rao, who is busy practising for the ‘All India sub-junior national badminton championship’ scheduled to begin in Hyderabad on January 25, says, “I want to represent India at international tournaments.”
Sanjeev got his first break when his coach at AKTP ZP High School S Satish Babu spotted him and asked him if he was interested in honing his skills. “I noticed he has exemplary skills when he was playing at the school and enrolled him for coaching in 2013. Since then, he has been outdoing himself,” says Babu.
He adds that Sanjeev’s aim isn’t a distant dream. “He has excelled in all the U-13 badminton championships and I am confident that he will be able to live his dream if he works with the same focus, as he is doing now, in the next two years,” Babu said.
To his credit, Sanjeev has a record of playing various national-level badminton championships eight times out of which he won a gold medal (in November, 2015) and finished at semi-finals thrice. He won several state-level championships in both singles and doubles category.
Sanjeev’s dedication, hard work and achievements also made others respond and support him. Recently, founder of Chitturi Subba Rao – Gopichand Badminton Academy, Chitturi Subba Rao, has announced free services at his academy. “The academy founder said Sanjeev can use the services for free. Sometimes, a few people come forward to donate shoes and other things,” said G Kusuma Kumari, physical director of SKSD Mahila Kalasala where the academy is situated.