Indian shuttler Ajay Jayaram has retired from international badminton, bringing down the curtain to his nearly two-decade long professional career.
The 34-year-old former world number 13, who had won the Dutch Open twice besides finishing runner-up at the Korea Open Super Series in 2015, took to social media to announce his retirement.
"As all good things come to an end, so is my professional badminton journey of nearly 2 decades. I've decided to retire from competitive badminton and I write this, teary-eyed and with a lump in my throat," he said in a post on his Twitter handle on Saturday.
"While I am engulfed by all these overwhelming emotions, I would like to celebrate and be grateful for all that badminton and sport, in general, have given me." Jayaram was the front runner to qualify for the London Olympics but a dramatic turn of events saw Parupalli Kashyap surpass him and make it to the showpiece event following a walkover by China's Chen Jin at the 2012 India Open Super Series.
"Badminton has defined most of what I am today. It has shaped me, taught me, grounded me and shown me what dreaming big can do," said Jayaram, whose career was plagued by constant injuries and struggles to arrange funds to pursue his dream.
Jayaram also said that he has cracked India's top business school ISB and would be pursuing an MBA programme.
"As someone who has been academically inclined, I've always wanted to pursue a higher education post retirement. A few months back, I decided to make the shift and explore something new," he said on Sunday in a new post.
"The Indian School of Business (ISB) which happens to be India's highest ranked B-school seemed like a great option for an MBA considering the diverse profiles it attracts.
"Following through on this goal, I took the GMAT where I managared a 700 + score. And as it stands, I've been lucky to secure an admission in ISB Hyderabad with a scholarship for its flagship PGP course." Jayaram had finished runner-up at the 2018 Vietnam Open Super 100, besides ending second best at the Dutch Open Grand Prix in 2010 and 2016, and White Nights International Challenge in 2018 and Belgian Open International last year.
On Saturday, Jayaram had thanked his family members, coaches and fans for their support during his playing career.
"From picking up the racket at a nearby club as a shy 7-year-old boy, to competing in the biggest stadiums as a World top 15 player, I am indebted to this wonderful sport for all the exciting and enriching experiences it has given me," he wrote.
"I've won, lost, cried, laughed, fought, experienced highs and lows lived and thrived, all within the rectangular space of 44*20 ft." Jayaram was also a member of the 2016 Indian men's team that claimed a bronze medal in Asia Team Championships. He last played at the Odisha Open Super 100 tournament in January this year.