Badminton in India has had its fair share of heroes, from Prakash Padukone to Pullela Gopichand and now to Saina Nehwal. In a nation which is trying to rise above the stereotype of “cricket crazy” – Badminton is one of the breakthrough sports.
But somehow, we are still very narrow in our vision and not many of us know about the rest of the Badminton Contingent. Beyond our frantic eyes, Ashwini Ponnappa has been sweating it out 8 hours a day without the comfort of having the venue to her as the home side at the commonwealth Games.
We talked to to her about the Commonwealth Games, the state of Badminton in India and more…
Arpit: Badminton has been a fairly known game in India due to the likes of Pullela Gopichand and Prakash Padukone, but after the arrival of Saina Nehwal there seems to be no stopping it. What do you have to say about this sudden fame for the sport?
Ashwini Ponnappa: There have been always excellent players from India, no doubt. But what Saina has done is that she has taken the sport to all classes of people including young girls. Her being a woman, has been a reason for the sport’s popularity with young girls. Though, she is 2 years younger than me she has made me wide-eyed by the efforts she puts in every match.
Arpit: Do you think that the performance of the Badminton Contingent will take advantage in the home crowd at the Commonwealth Games?
Ashwini Ponnappa: Yes for sure it will. At the Yonex open that happened in Chennai, a few months back – we had a glimpse of what is to come. The crowd was very supportive there, and we were being cheered at every single shot that we played. I am sure that we will surely have more support at the CWG.
Arpit: You are teamed up with Jwala Gutta in the Women’s doubles category, What do you have to say about your partner?
Ashwini Ponnappa: Really proud to have her as my partner, her experience helps me a lot to improve my skills and take me to the next level. I admire the effort she puts on every single game and every single shot. She brings a lot to my game.
Arpit: Have you been to the venue for the games, if yes, what are your first impressions?
Ashwini Ponnappa: I haven’t visited the venue yet, but as far as i have heard - its breath-taking. As far as am aware, till last month things were not really up to the mark but now all seems well.
Arpit: What kind of preparations have you made leading upto the games, and how are you feeling now that the games are just a fortnight away?
Ashwini Ponnappa: I have been practicing almost 8 hours a day, and a lot of time is being invested in discussing match strategies. I am really excited to be a part of the first event of this scale in India.
Arpit: How will success at the Commonwealth Games will help you as an individual sportsperson?
Ashwini Ponnappa: Yes, the sucess in CommomWealth games can be precious. I am working my heart out and will do my best. After the Commonwealth games, I am planing to concentrate more on single’s matches.
Arpit: Is it tough playing a sport like badminton professionally given the system in place in India?
Ashwini Ponnappa: Well you can’t just go on blaming the system, you have got to accept what you have and build on it. It’s not really tough, if you follow up with hard work. The system will then take care of itself.
Arpit: Thanks for your precious time.