The 2008 – 2012 Olympic cycle saw the emergence of Maldives badminton in the biggest stage the sport has to offer – Olympics. Maldives, the only Asian country in the Indian Ocean is one of the most progressive nations under the scope of Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC). Badminton Association of Maldives delivered their first-ever qualifier in the men’s singles of the badminton event in the London 2012 Olympics. Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed also won the National Youth Award in a ceremony held in the nation of islands recently. We recently had the pleasure of having an interesting chat with him, and here is what he had to say.
Hi Ajfan, tell us how did you pick up badminton?
Ajfan: I was 6 years old, and my cousins were in training with the national squad.
I recall them bringing me to the court and that was the first time I started hitting shuttlecocks.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Ajfan: It has been 6 years now I’ve been playing badminton. Since I started taking badminton seriously, I’ve always dreamt of wanting to be a badminton player.
How do you spend your time, away from badminton?
Ajfan: During my half days, I utilize this window of opportunity to relax by going swimming, at times catch a movie or hang out at the mall with close friends.
Who has been your greatest influence in life?
Ajfan: My parents, especially my mother.
Who was your favourite badminton player while growing up and why?
Ajfan: It has to be one of badminton’s great champions – Peter Gade. He is simply cheeky, smooth on court and very fast to the shuttle. Not forgetting he is also tagged as the most consistent player Europe has ever seen.
Who is your favourite badminton player now and why?
Ajfan: Superstar Lin Dan. I like his aggressive play on court. He is also known as the “king” when it comes to smash and tap.
Which was the best match you have ever played and why?
Ajfan: With Lin Dan, it was my first international match too. It was held in China in front of the home crowd playing against the best player in the world. That match gave me a whole new view on badminton. Experience of a life time I can never forget. To be honest it was the main reason which motivated me to go ahead.
Who is your greatest adversary in the sport right now and why?
Ajfan: There are a lot of special people who are advising me based on different situations. If I have to specifically write a name it might not be nice for others.
Who do you think is your biggest fan?
Ajfan: I don’t have any special fan as yet. At this point of time my friends and family have been there every step of the way since I started playing.
Who is your best mate/friend in the national team?
Ajfan: My mate Aminath Ahmed. We played together since junior days, trained together and we are still in touch.
Which is your favourite holiday destination?
Ajfan: The beach in Gold Coast, Australia.
What is your favourite food?
Ajfan: Western food especially steak and ribs.
Do you have a pre-match routine? Tell us about it.
Ajfan: I wake up very early on match day to keep my body awake for the upcoming match. To keep myself motivated and be on course with fresh relaxed mind, I often listen to music, either trance or techno genres.
What would you consider to be your greatest achievement in the sport thus far?
Ajfan: Playing and participating in the Olympics 2012 within just one year of my international badminton career. In this one year, I won medals at major games such as Indian Ocean Island Games 2012 for my country Maldives.
Who would you like to be for just one day?
Ajfan: It would be Lin Dan, the most successful badminton player of all time. I want to experience the day he played at the Olympics 2012 final. I want to feel the excitement, the nervousness and the happiness when he became 2-times Olympic Champion.
If there was to be a movie based on your life, who would you want to play as yourself?
Ajfan: Johnny Depp.
What do you see yourself doing after retiring from badminton?
Ajfan: I want to work with the Badminton Association of Maldives. I want to help develop the game in Maldives and bring more players to the international circuit.
What is your greatest fear in life?
Ajfan: Losing a close friend or a family member. To date Insya’Allah nothing has happened.
One word to describe yourself….
What would your last meal be?
Ajfan: Local food which are garudhiya, rice, thelli faiy and lonumirus also fried fish.
Ajfan, thanks a lot for your time and we wish you all the very best for today, tomorrow and the future.