Building the Bridge for Team India: In Conversation with Rajeev and Himani Khandelwal
The Indian Bridge mixed team created history at the Asian Games, 2018 by clinching the bronze medal. The sport, which was new to the Games, was interesting to watch out for during the games.
The average age of the team was approximately 57 years of age with our interviewee Mrs. Himani Khandelwal being the youngest team member. Overall, the experience for the team was fantastic as they even got a chance to stay with other top athletes from different sports.
Although the team missed out on the gold in the end, they fought to the nail. In an exclusive interview, we get a chance to hear from the Bridge giants- Himani and Rajeev. So, moving on to the better things now....
SK: Congratulations on winning the bronze medal at the Asian Games. How do you feel?
Thank you. We are ecstatic. The feeling that we won something for India is a matter of great pride for both of us.
SK: Can you tell us more about your experience in this event?
Playing at the Asian Games was an incredible experience. It was not a matter of I, me or you. Only India’s pride was in everyone's' mind.
SK: How did you prepare for the Games?
We had multiple selection trials before the Asian games. Also, we played in a few big tournaments prior to the Games. India hosted the Asia Cup in June 2018, which was like a prelude to the Asian Games. We also practiced a lot online.
SK: Now, going a bit back in time, how did it all begin for you?
Himani: My husband Rajeev was very actively playing bridge when we got married. So,I just drifted into it. Now, I have been playing for about 20 years.
Rajeev: I started at a very young age in my early teens. My father used to play bridge, and I used to fill in when they were short of a player. It just took off from there.
SK: You stay in India for sometime and then go to Europe. (Note- They stay for a few months in countries like Switzerland and Serbia) How does this help your game? Do you have any coaches who you work with?
We try to play bridge wherever we are. No, we don’t have a coach. Rajeev keeps modifying the system. So he is the coach in our partnership.
SK: Let’s talk a bit about the Indian bridge scenario. Can you please elaborate on this.
Bridge in India used to be considered for oldies, but in the last few years, a lot of youngsters have started playing bridge and are doing very well which is very heartening.
SK: Who is your inspiration and what keeps you motivated in the game?
There are a lot of bridge players who are an inspiration for us. So, we can't really name one or two of them. The challenge of doing better all the time gives us the motivation to keep going on in the game.
SK: Can you share some tips for the aspiring player?
Be focused, dedicated, and respect your partner.
SK: Finally, can you share some final thoughts for your fans and followers.
Keep playing and trying to improve. It is a never-ending learning experience.