Updated: November 6, 2019 2:16:38 pm
“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about life.” – Billie Jean King
Aumkaran Sharma spent his early childhood in smaller towns in Northern India. He loved playing cricket, roaming around with his friends, cycling, and playing the fool. His father, who had once been a district champion of badminton, saw something in his son and began to insist that he start playing badminton. The schools in Haldwani didn’t have any courts or facilities, so his father got him a coach. But it was only when the family moved to Dehra Dun, and Aumkaran came under the tutelage of a really good coach, that he began competing.
“I was defeated in the first match I played for the district. The next time, I was selected in the Under-10s state team and went up to the quarterfinals, which I lost. That was a big disappointment.” says Aumkaran. But then, the next district level tournament he played, Aumkaran came second. He also came second in the state-level tournament.
When the family moved to Gurgaon, Aumkaran joined Shiv Nadar School in Class 6. From playing on hard ground or the floor where lines had to be drawn by hand, he was transported to world-class courts and superb coaching from his school badminton coach. A district-level champion, Ankit Kumar is a hero for many of his students and also runs a badminton academy. Ankit sir became Aumkaran’s mentor and role model, and Aumkaran’s real talent began to emerge. Now his Under-13 National rank is 21 and Under-19, his rank is 61.
Aumkaran’s mother helps him organize his life so that he can balance badminton and studies. According to Aumkaran, she has some very practical advice, “My mom says, you just need to make a simple timetable and you need to follow that timetable. If you do that you will achieve everything. I’m not so good at studies but I manage every day by following a timetable. I take it day by day.” Classmates help with coursework he has missed and teachers are tolerant of his absences as long as he makes up what he has missed.
This enthusiastic and energetic 12-year-old’s ambition is to eventually play for India in the Olympics and also become a lawyer like his elder brother. Currently, Aumkaran is gearing up for the Asian Games this year – to qualify, he has to improve his Under-14 rank from 21 to between 1 and 5. “I have until August” he says, with a determined look. “Earlier I was not disciplined. But now I have a goal and I am much more disciplined than before. People know me. Sometimes they go to my father and ask him if he is Aumkaran’s father. That makes me feel really good!”
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