Ashwini Ponnappa credits parents for her success on the court
Sport is known for being a bonding exercise between people all over the world. This is especially true when it comes to fathers (or families) and their children. A holiday from work often translates to a trip outside with the kids, taking part in various sporting activities. Even when the harmless fun converts into competing professionally, often times the fathers remain a constant, watching proudly from the sidelines.
Ashwini Ponnappa has made the country proud time and again on the badminton court, winning multiple medals for the nation. She acknowledges the support her family provided her over the years and credited her parents for where she is today.
The doubles specialist is known for not being an easy competitor especially due to her sheer determination to keep bouncing back after a hit. Ashwini opens up about how important a role her parents have played in helping her hone her skill:
1. Talk us through one defining moment in your sporting career where your father stood by you and helped guide you?
My Dad has always stood by me. I recollect when I was younger he was the one who traveled with me for most of my tournaments. He was always calm and encouraging. Being from a sports background, he understands the ups and downs of the game.
2. Do you recall any advice you got from your father that stuck with you?
I remember when I would go for my matches; my dad would always stress on a good warm up and cool down. He was extremely particular about that. As I got older, I don’t really know if it was a trend but I started going for my match with just our track upper and he was never pleased with that. Dad believed it was very important to wear the entire tracksuit and warm up so that the body would get warmed up fast and also after my match put it on so that my body temperature doesn’t suddenly drop.
3. Tell us about an instance you remember where your father expressed pride in your achievements?
I know that my dad was extremely proud when I won the CWG (Commonwealth Games) 2010 gold along with Jwala [Gutta]. It was great to have both my parents there.
4. How does your father motivate you to do better and achieve even greater heights?
The most important thing for him was that I gave my best and played my best. He has never put pressure on me to perform and has stood by me through the ups and downs in my career and always believed in me. That has been a big motivating factor for me.
5. If your father introduced you to badminton, how was that experience and what have you learnt from him?
My parents definitely were the ones who put me into badminton. When I was pretty small, I enjoyed playing badminton outdoors with my friends. I was about 7 or 8 when I started going to coaching classes’ right next to my dad’s workplace at the youth center. Initially I never really enjoyed it. It was only once I got to my early teens that I realized that badminton is what I loved and what I wanted to pursue.
It was tough on my parents as both of them worked full-time jobs and had to juggle their work and my practice schedule. My mum would drop me and dad picked me up. Fortunately once I got to the 16 category, it got easier as we moved right behind where I trained in the Reserve Bank of India quarters. My dad worked there and they have been extremely helpful.
I am grateful to both my parents for all the support I’ve received. It is definitely because of them that I am where I am today.