Keeping up with college work is a struggle at the best of times. Now imagine taking part in international sporting competitions on a regular basis on top of that.
Such is the life of Trinity student Prakash Vijayanath as he attempts to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
 
The badminton player underlined his credentials in the African Games in Congo in September, where he finished in second place.
 
The South African was "delighted" with his performance in the badminton event of what is a continental multi-sport competition. 
 
En route to winning the silver medal, he overcame the African number one player - "it was my first time beating him and he was in great form."
 
However, Prakash is not getting carried away. Getting a Computer Science and Business degree from Trinity is his main priority at the moment and he is aware of the commitment that is involved in securing an Olympic berth.
 
“If I try to qualify for the Olympics, it will have a negative impact on my study. I would be away a lot of the time and 3rd year is an important year,” he said.
 
In an average 24-week college year, Prakash said that he would miss up to nine weeks per year because of badminton commitments. 
 
He admits that it is difficult to keep up with college abroad as, “when you have to travel and practice, you are not necessarily in the mood to study.”
 
 
Concern over the impact of badminton on his college work has led him to consider skipping this Olympics in favour of the 2020 Games.  He has not quite given up on qualifying for next year's Olympics just yet though. 
 
He will need to be the top-ranked player in Africa to qualify or finish in the top 60 of the world rankings by the cut-off point next May. Prakash has beaten the top player in Africa so he will not be daunted by the challenge. 
 
Qualifying through the African route may represent his best chance of being in Rio next year given that the elite badminton circuit is, “dominated by Asians and a few Danish players.”
 
His biggest obstacle will be that he needs to play in a significant number of events in the next year to improve his ranking. It would result in even more time away from lectures, which is less than ideal.
 
He is, at least, safe in the knowledge that his college has been very accommodating to his unique lifestyle. 
 
His tutor and Trinity Sports Development Officer, Cathy Gallagher, have helped him out immensely, particularly by sending lecture notes via email.
 
If he decides not to fully commit to such a rigorous schedule, it is because he sees a long-term picture of his career trajectory. 
 
At 21 years old, Prakash still has plenty of time to improve under the guidance of Badminton Ireland. He hopes to focus on badminton full-time after his degree and the 100% focus on badminton should benefit his development.
 
It cannot be easy to leave home to live on the other side of the world. Yet Prakash is very positive about his experience in Ireland so far, highlighting the role of Badminton Ireland in aiding the culture change. 
 
“Badminton Ireland has really taken care of me since I arrived in Dublin,” he said.  
 
It was this link with Badminton Ireland that brought him to the country. His old coach in school suggested that he move to Ireland for “better training” and so he could “play in European tournaments." 
 
Prakash also rings the praises of Badminton Ireland in how they have promoted the game throughout the country recently. 
 
He marks out targeting schools as an essential strategy as he says that, "people will continue to play badminton if they play it early enough." 
 
The biggest challenge that badminton faces is that they must deal with very good third-level players "losing focus because of college" as they may face a lack of payment for a sport that is often outside of mainstream public attention.
 
This has not proved to be an issue for Prakash though and he is not about to lose focus in chasing his dreams. If he fails to make it this time, he is surely a future Olympian. 
 
He asked me to thank his sponsors, his coaches (Irwansyah, Stewart Carson and Daniel Magee) and his parents for getting him to where he is today. 
 
With such a stable grounding to complement his talent, he is definitely someone to watch out for in the future.