“When you are at the centre of the court, you decide the pace of the game,” says Audi’s country head Rahil Ansari. He loves the adrenaline rush and says, without apologies, “I love to win.”
Ansari had tried various sports as a child. When he was eight, he was the goalkeeper for a local football team in his hometown in Germany. He went on to play squash, tennis and now badminton. And, to his surprise, he has been good at all of them. “I have always enjoyed sports involving balls or racquets. Hitting the ball right with a racquet or getting a goal has always driven me,” he says, as he putts in the miniature golf course at a corner of his cabin at the Audi headquarters in Mumbai.
He heads to the posh Waterstones Club in Mumbai every weekend to play badminton. Not a huge fan of gymming and running on treadmills, Ansari says he finds it drab and difficult to stick to a routine. Playing badminton is relaxing for him. “I stop thinking,” he says, “my entire focus is on the shuttle and trying to win a point against the opponent.” Ansari regularly participates in the monthly tournaments held at his club, becoming the runner-up in two such finals. Cross-court stops are his favourite technique.
Although he didn’t win the finals, he takes that as a lesson. Ansari says, “I lost the last final though I felt that I was at a good position to win from a technique perspective. However, I was not quite so in terms of fitness.” That game motivated to Ansari to practice the sport more regularly.
While being a sweet-loving foodie goes against his fitness goals, Ansari ensures that he consumes a low-carb diet when is extensively travelling or working late hours.
Ansari believes in understanding the techniques in a game. “One should keep on trying new techniques and tactics while playing, until they figure out their masterstroke,” he says. Also being an avid table tennis player, he often uses some of the game’s sleeker strokes in badminton. This spirit helps him excel at work too. He says, “Sometimes you try new ideas and plans but they don’t work out. You can always drop them and move on to the next good idea or try newer ways to innovate and implement the previous ones.”
Despite all the hours he puts into badminton, Ansari is still a football lover at heart. He recently flew to catch a Champions League game, from Mumbai to Munich and then to Madrid. Ansari pursues his sporting spirit as tirelessly as he does his business goals.