Interview with Ashwini Ponnappa: "We have the single-minded goal of bagging an Olympic medal"
India’s ace women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa are slogging it out in Hyderabad under the watchful eyes of their Malaysian coach Tan Kim. The pair – ranked 15th in the world – have one goal in mind, to bag an Olympic medal. Ashwini Ponnappa talks about the pair’s prospects in Rio and much more in an exclusive interview.
Q How are your preparations going on for the Rio Olympics?
We (me and Jwala Gutta) are training hard in Hyderabad under doubles coach Tan Kim. We are focused on doing well at the Rio Olympics. Keeping our fingers crossed.
Q What’s your take on striking a balance between taking adequate rest and playing tournaments in the run-up to a marquee event like the Olympics?
It is imperative to have a proper balance - we will play in the Canadian Open later this month and US Open in early July before we have a month or so of rest and training before we head to Rio. I think we will be recharged for the Olympics.
Q Both of you had played at the 2012 London Olympics – how much do you think will it help to already have gained the experience of playing on a stage as big as the Olympics?
Of course, the experience of playing in the Olympics will help. We have to be ready for any challenge in Rio as it will be a new environment and another Olympics for both of us.
Q What is the importance for a favourable draw at the Olympics?
A favourable draw at the Rio Olympics is something every player looks forward to and if you get it is an ideal scenario. But such things are not under your control and one has to be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Q As a pair, what according to you is your biggest strength?
We are a unique pair and also our left-right combination also helps.
Q Indian badminton is struggling to produce quality women’s doubles pairs after you guys – your thoughts?
I think a lot of encouragement and big push is needed to produce good women’s doubles players.
Q Realistically speaking, how do you assess your Olympic medal-winning chances?
Me and Jwala are putting in a lot of hard work with the single-minded goal of bagging an Olympic medal. We are straining our every nerve towards that.
Q You turned out for Bengaluru Topguns in the 2016 Premier Badminton League. Your thoughts.
The PBL was conducted very professionally and I hope it happens every year in the same manner.