HYDERABAD: Barely four months ago, A.S.S. Siril Verma was accused of age fudging and was doubtful in the Indian team in October. The moment his name was announced as one of the four age fraudsters, Siril ran out of the hotel in disbelief, his mother followed him to save her son from being hit by speeding vehicles on busy Delhi roads.
A couple of days later, Siril was cleared by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). But the damage had been done. His detractors ripped him apart on social media. Even his friends spoke in hushed tones.
With his parents and coach standing by him, Siril went on to become the first Indian after Saina Nehwal (2008) to reach the finals of the World Junior Championships in November. Though he lost in the summit clash he won people’s hearts by beating several top-ranked players.
Four months after being accused of age fraud, Siril went on to become the junior world No. 1.
The 16-year-old, who is a member of the Hyderabad Hunters team in the Premier Badminton League, told TOI that he was delighted with the honour.
“I am happy to become No. 1. But my aim is to become No. 1 in the senior category as well,” said Siril, who is ahead of Toma Junior Popov of France. Another Indian, Chirag Sen is ranked No. 3.
Recalling the harrowing experience in October, Siril said, “It was unfortunate but I have come out of that. I reached the finals of the Junior Worlds. I should have won the title but I missed it. I was not thinking about the ranking but I knew if I performed consistently the ranking would improve on its own.”
Ask him about his target and he says: “I want to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and win a medal there. I want to perform consistently and win as many titles as possible.”
Siril won the U-15 Asian junior championship in 2013. He also became the first Indian to win the Badminton Asia Youth Championships the same year.
Siril will make his first attempt into the senior category in the forthcoming international level later this month. “I am playing the qualifiers of Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. Hopefully, I will qualify for the event,” he said.