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It’s going to be different for me as I’m not playing women’s doubles and just playing mixed in CWG: Ashwini Ponnappa

Ashwini Ponnappa will be playing her fourth successive Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. (Pic credit: in.victorsport.com)
Ashwini Ponnappa will be playing her fourth successive Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. (Pic credit: in.victorsport.com)

Ashwini Ponnappa and Commonwealth Games is a long-standing relationship. The Indian doubles player will be representing her nation for the fourth successive time when she competes at the 22nd Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

CWG has always been a happy hunting ground for Ashwini, having won five medals, including two golds - one each in women's doubles and mixed team event. She has won at least one medal in each of the three editions she has participated in so far.

The first CWG in 2010 was the most successful one for Ashwini in New Delhi. Playing on home court, she struck twice - winning the women's doubles gold medal with Jwala Gutta and a silver medal in the mixed team championship.

After claiming a women's doubles silver medal at the 2014 Glasgow Games with her then regular partner Jwala Gutta, Ashwini again struck a purple patch four years later in Australia.

She had a memorable 2018 Gold Coast CWG as she helped her team win the gold medal in the mixed team event. She continued her dream run, winning a bronze medal with N Sikki Reddy in the women's doubles competition.

Ashwini Ponnappa is aiming for her record sixth medal at 2022 CWG

Ashwini Ponnappa, who has been representing the Indian team since 2010, is one of the most successful badminton players in the CWG's history. Having won five medals so far, she is gearing up for her sixth.

If she manages to maintain her previous track record, there is every chance that she will achieve the unique record of winning medals in all the CWG editions she will have taken part in.

However, this time around, Ashwini is not playing the women's doubles. Gayatri Gopichand Pullela and Treesa Jolly will be the ones representing the Indian team in the women's doubles.

Ashwini Ponnappa will be playing mixed doubles at CWG for the first time in the team event. The former World Championships bronze medalist and B Sumeeth Reddy earned their place in the national squad after emerging as champions during the selection trials conducted by the Badminton Association of India in April.

Ashwini Ponnappa admitted that it will be different this time as she is only playing mixed doubles. However, the experienced Bengaluru player is confident of putting up a strong performance in team championships as well as in the individual event.

Both Ashwini and Sumeeth have been training under Indonesian coach Kristiawan Dwi at the ongoing national camp in Hyderabad.

Ashwini and Sumeeth have been playing mixed doubles for the last one year or so and have been ranked 90 in the world.

The 32-year-old used to play with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and they did well to reach an impressive world ranking of 19 in early 2021. Ashwini and Sikki Reddy are currently world No. 25 in the women's doubles.

Ashwini Ponnappa took some time out of her busy training schedule and spoke exclusively with Sportskeeda.

Excerpts from the interview with Ashwini Ponnappa

Q: With less than a month to go for CWG, how do you assess your preparations?

A: It’s been very good. I am happy with the way training’s been going.

Q: You will be playing mixed doubles with Sumeeth Reddy. How do you find an experienced player like him to be your partner?

A: I enjoy playing with Sumeeth. I like the energy and attitude he brings on court.

Q: How do you rate your chances at CWG in the individual event?

A: It’s definitely going to be tough. There are some good mixed doubles pairs from the other participating countries. We are going to focus on playing at a high level and giving our best.

Q: India upset formidable Malaysia in the last edition at Gold Coast CWG to win the gold medal. Do you think India can retain the team championship title?

A: It's definitely possible. It’s not going to be easy and we will have to make sure that we give our best and fight.

Q: You have represented the country in all the major multiple sports events including Olympics. Please share your thoughts on this edition of CWG.

A: I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be different for me as I’m not playing women’s doubles and I'm just playing mixed. It’s a new experience and I’m excited about it.

Q: Specialist doubles coach Mathias Boe of Denmark will be a great help for you and other doubles players as India aim to perform well at CWG after their historic Thomas Cup triumph.

A: He has definitely helped the boys and it showed in the way they played in the Thomas Cup. Sumeeth and I are training with coach Kristiawan Dwi for the mixed doubles.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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