Exclusive: Meet the identical UAE twins who want to win Olympic medals

Dhiren and Dev Ayyappan put up an impressive fight against former world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan at the Asian Badminton Championships


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Dhiren and Dev Ayyappan at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai. — Supplied photo
Dhiren and Dev Ayyappan at the Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai. — Supplied photo

Published: Thu 11 May 2023, 1:47 AM

Identical twins Dhiren and Dev Ayyappan just wanted to pick up a racquet and play after watching a game of badminton for the first time in 2016.

"My dad took me to a badminton tournament, he was a fan of badminton. The first match we saw in that tournament was a doubles, both of us liked it and we got our first racquets at that moment," Dev recalled.

"It happened very quickly as though there was some connection between us and badminton!"

What they could not imagine then that seven years later they would be giving former world champions, Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia, a run for their money.


The 17-year-old twins were a part of the UAE squad at the Badminton Asia Championships (April 25-30) in Dubai where they won the preliminary round before going down fighting 21-14, 21-17 to Ahsan and Setiawan, two of the greatest doubles players in the history.

"When we went into the match, we knew that they were the most experienced players in the tournament. They won so many titles. We just went there to fulfil our game and show them what we are capable of," Dhiren says.

"It was a different experience playing against them. We realised how these top players maintain such a consistent level throughout the entire game, not even a single point they were giving simply.

"The shuttle kept coming. These people are legends of the sport, it was very good to learn from them and play them. It was a privilege for us."

They may have lost the match to the legendary Indonesian pair, but their performance won them some admirers.

"We met a few Indonesian coaches who liked our game. After seeing our match, they advised us to come to Indonesia and train and play tournaments," Dev said.

"We might plan to go to Indonesia for a month or two to train and play later this year."

These identical twins cannot imagine playing with other players.

"It’s much easier to play with him for me compared to the other players," Dev said.

"I know how Dhiren feels on the court, I know how to pull him up when he is down and he knows how to pull me up when I am down.

"All those understandings have come naturally to us," added Dev before Dhiren revealed their goals.

"The short-term goal now is to play in the junior international tournaments. We are soon going to France and after that we are going to Spain and Indonesia. So these are the next tournaments we are focusing on," he said.

"The long-term goal is to play the Olympics and World Championships and find a place on the podium in those two big events."

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