KUALA LUMPUR: Most four-year-olds would be running around the house, being mischievous and leaving parents chasing after them.
Not S. Kisona (pic).With policeman father, A. Selvaduray, as her first coach, Kisona was as disciplined and focused as any top shuttler when she held her first badminton racquet back in 2002.
She may not have known it back then, but that was the beginning of her slow and arduous climb to become the nation’s 2024 Paris Olympic aspirant in women’s singles event.
Her father as her first coach instilling the kind of drive, desire and determination that was needed for her to be where she is now – among the country’s top women’s singles shuttlers, after winning the 2019 SEA Games gold in her debut.
It does help too that badminton runs in her family. Her father was a part-time coach for Negri Sembilan, while mother S. Valarmathi as well as her older siblings – brothers Thinagaran and Mahendran and sister Kanmani – all played the game up to a certain level themselves.
“Both my parents guided and encouraged me to choose badminton as a career. I couldn’t be playful when I was young as my father was very strict. So, I learned the basics at a very young age, ” she said.
Her father’s strict training regime began to bear fruit when Kisona started winning titles at school-level tournaments and emerged as the youngest champion of the Malaysian Schools Sports Council tournament, bagging the girls’ singles and doubles titles in 2009 at the age of 10.
Five years later, disaster struck. The Seremban-born shuttler suffered multiple injuries at the 2014 World Junior Mixed Team Championships in Alor Setar, Kedah, and was forced out of action for two years, putting a huge dent on her blossoming career.
It took her a while to get her rhythm back, though. It wasn’t until May 2017 that she was back in the limelight – lifting her first Badminton World Federation (BWF) title by clinching the Indonesian International Series, followed by her Malaysian International Series win two months later.
However, it was only when the 21-year-old was named as a replacement for defending champion Goh Jin Wei (who had a stomach surgery) in the 2019 Philippines SEA Games that she finally became a household name.
Not only did Kisona defy the odds to retain the women’s singles gold medal for Malaysia in Manila last November, she also blew away some higher-ranked players en route.
In February, world No 92 Kisona continued with her breakthrough when she helped the national team qualify for the Uber Cup on merit by making the semi-finals at the Asia Team Championships in Manila. — Bernama