Upcoming shuttler Nikkita Joseph has been selected to the Indian Under-18 badminton team for the forthcoming 19th International School Sports Foundation (ISF) Games.
Nagpur teenager Nikkita Joseph will represent the four-member Indian girls badminton squad at the prestigious tournament slated to be held in Normandy, France from May 14 to 22, 2022.
The ISF Gymnasiade is the largest international multi-sport and educational event for school students aged 16-18 years old. This major international sporting event was organized for the first time in 1974 and will celebrate its 19th edition in France a couple of months later.
The International School Sports Federation is an international sports governing body for school sports. Founded in 1972 by 21 signatory nations, the federation has been organizing international competitions to encourage education through sports and student athletes. It has 132 members from five continents.
More than 70 countries and around 3500 participants are expected to participate in 20 sports disciplines in France. Around 250 teenage players from India will compete in the ISF Championship.
Nikkita Joseph impressed during selection trials in Pune
The School Games Federation of India (SGFI) conducted selection trials for the boys at Bhubaneswar (Odisha) and the girls at Pune Balewadi Stadium a few days ago.
In all, 47 talented girls from across the country participated during the two-day trials. In the selection trials, 17-year-old Nikkita displayed her talent and beat her opponents to clinch a place in the national team.
Nikkita, who turned 17 on Wednesday, outclassed Priya Singh of Delhi 15-12, 15-12 in the first round.
The tall girl trounced MS Eshita of Telangana 15-10, 15-12 in the second round.
The pre-quarter final was the most difficult match for Nikkita. The talented Nagpur girl edged past Haryana’s Jiya Rawat 15-11, 9-15, 15-11 with a brilliant all-round display.
In the quarter-finals, Nikkita got the better of Flora Engineer of Gujarat 15-13, 15-9 and booked her berth in the Indian badminton team for the ISF Championship.
All four semi-finalists were picked by the Indian team, who will undergo a two-week long coaching camp before leaving for France.
Nikkita, who trains under the experienced Badminton World Federation (BWF) certified coach Chetak Khedikar at the Divisional Sports Complex Mankapur Stadium in Nagpur, is ranked fourth in U-17 doubles in India.
Chetak, who runs the Shuttlers Craze Sports Academy in Nagpur, is delighted to see his trainee selected for the Indian team.
“It was a very good 2017 for Nikkita Joseph when she won the gold medal at the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) Nationals. Nikkita has been doing well over the last couple of months. She reached the semi-finals of the recently held Senior State Badminton tournament in Nagpur. Selection in the Indian team will certainly boost her confidence for her future career,” said Chetak Khedikar while talking to Sportskeeda.
Nikkita, who is a Standard XI student at Hislop College Nagpur, will prepare well before traveling to France.
“I am very happy with my selection. Selection trials in Pune were very tough. I am glad I managed to finish in the top four and got selected in the national team. I would like to prepare well and excel at the world level. It will be a good experience for me,” said Nikkita Joseph.
Nikkita is the only girl from Maharashtra to get selected in the Indian badminton team. Nikkita has thanked the Deputy Director of Sports Shekhar Patil, MBA, NDBA, Federal Bank and all her well-wishers and coaches for their support.
Deputy Director of Sports, Nagpur Shekhar Patil congratulated Nikkita Joseph for her success and wished her well for future tournaments.
Indian Under-18 girls’ badminton team for ISF Championship
1. Devika Sihag (Chandigarh)
2. Nikkita Joseph (Maharashtra)
3. S. Hashini (Tamil Nadu)
4. Pretana N. Shet (Karnataka).