"I always used to watch Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu’s matches while growing up," says upcoming sensation Roshni Venkat
Roshni Venkat has cemented her position as one of the most venerated young badminton players in the world.
The 16-year old shuttler etched her name in the history books by becoming the first resident Indian to qualify for the Pan American Championships in 2018. Bowing out only in the quarterfinals, Venkat proved her mettle amongst the fiercest competitors in a tournament of the highest order.
In May 2019, she repeated the feat by sealing a spot in the United States National Under-19 team after finishing as a runner-up at the Badminton International Trials in Los Angeles, successively showcasing that she belongs amongst the upper echelon of prodigious prospects in the sport.
The youngster is a perennial overachiever and she has similarly shown no signs of complacency in pursuing her education with the same level of single-mindedness that has been the driving force behind all of her early success.
Sportskeeda spoke to Roshni Venkat ahead of the Pan American Badminton Tournament in Brazil that is set to start in July. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Picking up a racquet at just 7 years old, what inspired you to pursue badminton from such a young age?
I started playing badminton in my complex. My dad just put me into the sport as a hobby, to play in my free time and just to see how playing a sport will work out. I never had any ambition at that time; I just picked up a racquet, started playing and got better day by day.
Growing up, which players did you idolize and did you look to model your game based on their styles on the court?
Well, I always used to watch Saina (Nehwal) and (PV) Sindhu’s matches. I never look to idolize their styles as such. But I really looked up to them as role models.
Despite working your way up to becoming one of the most talented young badminton players in the world, you balance your passion along with your education. What is the motivation behind focusing on both of these aspects at the same time and how challenging has it been?
Education is a key part in a person’s life. As a backup, you always need education and I think its really hard to just to leave it and pursue only sports.
Of course, balancing both is really challenging and I think you need a lot of time management skills, patience and perseverance. But I think if you can manage your time properly and dedicate the right number of hours for each, it is definitely possible.
Obstacles are part and parcel of every sportsperson’s journey to reach to the top. What are the kind of obstacles that you have had to overcome to become and the player and also the person that you are today?
I have had a lot of obstacles on a day-to-day basis; a lot of commute and often I used to get really stressed out every day of work because I used to sleep really late after doing a lot of homework and studying.
The next day, I had to wake up really early, get to my fitness regime and play badminton. There have been some tournaments that have not been as successful as I have hoped them to be in the past few years.
There have been a lot of losses and upsets that I have had to overcome. Especially, some tournaments in the US didn’t go the way I planned and its really heartbreaking because you’ve put in so much of effort.
After overcoming so many obstacles, do you believe that a sportsperson’s mentality during winning and losing is integral to their success?
I think its definitely integral because if a sportsperson doesn’t have a positive mindset to overcome losses, I think it will become hard to progress.
If it is a really hard loss, it might take a few days to get over but after that, you have to learn from the mistakes that you did, the failure and move on. If you don’t have that particular mindset, determination and perseverance, it will become really hard to succeed as a sportsperson.
Training under the guidance of coach Krishna Kumar, how much of an impact has he had on your game?
Under his guidance, my game has really improved a lot. He has improved my weakness areas and help me learn new strokes.
My movement was not as smooth and fluid as it is now. He has also helped to improve my smashes and drops as well, making them steeper and more effective.
After finishing as a runner-up in the Badminton International Trials in Los Angeles, you have once again been selected to represent the United States Under-19 Team in the Pan American Badminton Tournament. How do you plan to prepare before such a major competition?
I am going to prepare as I always do with good sessions of fitness and training. I am also going to work on my movement and strokes. For me, quantity is not important, but it is the quality that really matters.
Even if you put in 4 hours a day, but you give your 100 per cent, that’s what really matters. I am going to work on my mental aspects as well and prepare myself mentally for a tough challenge ahead.
Representing the USA Under-19 Team, how would you describe the levels of competition and performance in the United States?
In the United States, the competition is really high because there are a lot of coaches from China, Indonesia and Thailand that have migrated to the US 10 to 15 years ago and they have become world champions.
The coaches are really good and so are the players. I think badminton is really picking up as a sport in the US and I think the competition is really strong.
The Pan American Badminton Tournament will be host to exceptional shuttlers from all parts of North and South America. Will you analyze the styles of your opponents before facing them?
If I can get the video of them playing, I would love to watch it and analyze their weakness. If I cannot, since it’s an unknown opponent, I would first try to focus on myself and how I can use my strengths to gain points. As the match progresses, I would analyze their weaknesses and play to them.
Finally, what are your expectations from yourself ahead of the Pan American Badminton Tournament?
Well, my expectations are always just to play my best game that I play. I feel really bad when I do not play my full game because I would have trained really hard and given it all on court while not playing at the highest level.