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GoBadminton File

International Women's Day: Women, who pushed the limits

By: Swetha
Date: 08 Mar, 2018
Image Courtesy: GoBadminton File

 

Aparna Popat


Started playing badminton at the age of 8 in 1986 under Anil Pradhan, the former National Champion, who recognised the spark in her game and said her parents,

“Give me this girl, I will put her on the Indian badminton map.”

 

The emanation of the girls in the Indian badminton happened with Aparna Popat. After shifting her base to the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in 1994, she remained undisputed in lifting the Nationals from 1997 to 2006, parring her coach Padukone. 

 

The highlights of her achievements at the international level are participation in 2 Olympic Games, 1 Asian Games, a Silver Medal at the World Junior Championships in 1996 and 4 medals in 3 Commonwealth Games appearances.

 

During her journey, she reached career-high world ranking of 16, conferred with one of the highest sporting honours, Arjuna Award in 2005, selected for Global Sports Mentoring Programme - an initiative promoted by Hillary Clinton aimed at empowering women and girls through sports. 

 

Today, she is the most renowned commentator, who is intrigued much about analysing the game, strategies, and reading more about the crucial part of badminton, which is not much surprise for her after her professional career. She said, “Commentating helps me to bridge the gap with the game.”

 

She remained as one of the prominent sports personality in India.

 

Jwala Gutta

 

The southpaw known for her vociferous voice for badminton doubles in India, born to Indian father and the Chinese mother in 1983, started holding badminton racket at an early age of 6. Initially opted Tennis as her racket sport, but shifted to badminton on her mother’s insistence; she is the first and the most successful women’s doubles player in the Indian badminton history.

 

Jwala represented India on the international platform from late 1990’s to 2017, initially partnering with Shruti Kurein and later with Ashwini Ponnappa, with whom she saw a big success in the women’s doubles, rose to the career high of world no. 10 in 2015.

 

Known for her stroke plays with the left hand, Jwala partnered with V. Diju as well, in the mixed doubles event and participated at London Olympics.

 

Coached under S.M. Arif, Jwala’s achievements include the bronze medal at 2011 BWF World Championships in London, Gold and Silver at 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games. She marked the historic win by holding bronze at the 2014 Thomas & Uber Cup held at New Delhi, followed by the bronze at the Badminton Asia Championships. Her another biggest milestone was reaching finals at the 2009 BWF Super Series Masters Finals with Diju.


Today, not disclosing and vague about her exit in the game as a player, opened her academy across the city, which identifies the talent from the grassroot level.

  

Saina Nehwal

 

Born in 1990, Saina has added as high as 23 international titles into her cabin and is the role model to many young badminton players. She is the first Indian to have won the Olympic medal in the history of badminton.

 

Besides winning bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, she added at least of a medal at the BWF major events; BWF World Championship and the BWF World Junior Championship.

In 2010 Saina lifted the trophy at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and stood with the gold at the podium.

 

Since past few years, Saina has been through a whole lot trials and tribulations. Ten super series titles, including Malaysia Masters and India Open in 2015 title goes into her winning list. She finished as runner-up in Jakarta for her first ever medal at the World Championships later in 2015.

 

Then comes the dark side in her way. She has been into lot of injuries, which made her to skip a lot of tournaments and eventually resulting the drop of her world rankings. That is the low period which Saina didn’t expect. Saina Nehwal had to rush straight to hospital from Rio Olympics for a knee surgery.

 

By winning bronze at 2017 BWF World Championship, Saina gave the victorious comeback, followed by shifting her base to Hyderabad after three years trained at Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy under coach Vimal Kumar, proves that she is the fighter who never gives up.

Saina gained her confidence after winning the Nationals against P.V. Sindhu in 2017. Currently, she is training at Gopichand Academy and admitted that change in her fitness regimen under Gopichand’s instructions could see the better results.

 

PV Sindhu

 

Indian fans call her as ‘Olympic Silver Queen’ as she is the only and the first Indian to have won silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Life has completely changed with the increased responsibilities on her.

 

The sport spread all over the country like a virus. The following day of her win, parents with their young kids lined-up at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy, where Sindhu was opting her training.

 

Being born to the sports enthusiast parents, who received Arjuna Award for Volleyball, Sindhu chose badminton over volleyball and never looked back.

 

After receiving the basic guidance from Mehboob Ali at the badminton courts of Indian Railway Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunications in Secunderabad, Sindhu joined Gopichand Academy for the further training.

 

Her zeal to achieve something in the sport was obvious when she gathered attention by reaching the academy on time travelling for 56 kilometers daily.


The national chief coach, Gopichand said, “The most striking feature in Sindhu's game is her attitude and the never-say-die spirit.”

    

She went on winning as many titles as possible in U13, U17, and U19 events. At the age of 17, Sindhu grabbed the world body BWF attention when she cruised to top 20 in the BWF World Rankings. The biggest milestone in her career was winning silver at Rio Olympics 2016, followed by winning another silver at the 2017 World Championships at Glasgow and 2017 World Super Series Finals in Dubai.


Ashwini Ponnappa

Known for her beauty with brawn, Ashwini Ponnappa marked herself as the second most successful women’s doubles shuttler after Jwala Gutta.

 

Born to a national hockey player in 1989, Ashwini Ponnappa has a good stride on the international circuit in both women’s doubles and mixed doubles disciplines. Pairing with Jwala, Ashwini reached to the career best of world no. 10 in the BWF World Rankings.

 

Ponnappa alongside Gutta won the bronze medal at the BWF World Championships in 2011 becoming the first Indian pair and women and only the second overall to win a medal at the Worlds. Followed by winning gold and silver at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014 respectively. 

 

Parting ways with Jwala Gutta, Ashwini partnered with N Sikki Reddy in women’s doubles and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in the mixed doubles.


According to Ashwini, drawing more power from shoulder is easier than drawing power from wrists, following the different fitness regimen.

 

Sikki Reddy

The player who is on the top of the mixed doubles list in India, today, is N Sikki Reddy, who used to travel for 100 kms everyday to get trained before started training seriously in 2003.

 

Started playing badminton at the age of 8, the doubles and the mixed specialist, who just eats, sleeps, and plays badminton, hardly ponders to rest.


Sikki believes, “losing makes you stronger. There are other opportunities awaiting you. This is not the end,” has quite a good trophies in her cabinet.

 

Sikki Reddy achieved some of the major titles such as, Brazil Open, Russian Open, Syed Modi International to name few.


This International Women's Day, team GoBadminton shares the amazing journey and the greatest achievements of Indian Badminton Super Women and salutes them with pride.  

 

You deserve to be happy and proud.

 

Happy Women’s Day! 


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