Was it ever a realistic possibility that roughly a decade ago any individual would dream and pursue to pick up professional Sports other than the Indian favourite pass-time; Cricket…? Hailing from the IT capitol of India, Ashwini Ponnappa did just the same; ever since her mom gave this enthusiastic kid a racket at the age of eight, with the hope to humbly subdue a restless child, Ashwini has been doing just that; knocking back shuttle cocks from every corner of the court, that too by making headlines and turning heads.
Ponnappa’s made her debut in the world of Badminton when she won the Indian junior championship in the year 2001; gradually honing her skills to make her mark in the open category she claimed the first spot in the South Asian Championships by the year 2006. In a sport where we have seen to produce number home grown, world class athletes and that too within just half a decade, here we see the bloom of yet another, joining the ranks of P.V. Sindhu and the world number one; Saina Nehwal, amongst the top 20 in the world.
In 2010, in the Common Wealth Games held in Delhi, Ponnappa patnered up with veteran doubles prodigy; Jwala Gutta and securing the first position, making history by winning the first gold medal for India in the event, and the duo has competed in Women’s Doubles event ever since. It is a slightly odd yet enhancing factor when a Singles game is morphed into a Doubles sport but, there then, arises an additional dynamic which needs to be computed; team play, take tennis, tabled or otherwise when you’re alone in the court it certainly is a more arduous task but only your own motor skills are at play here. In a Doubles game however more than physical fitness and technique, a pair’s chemistry and understanding is put to a solemn test and regardless if an individual is the best there is in a Singles match up that is of little consequence in a Doubles game. So the interesting thing is even so it may be the same exact game there are mostly always two sets of Champions representing each style of game play.
A player retains their ranking based on their individual performance in normal play (Singles). So we can ascertain that two world class athletes who individually are relatively average but are simply awe inspiring in a paired event precisely why we have a paired ranking for a paired event and this is primarily why we see both Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta simply catapulting Women’s Badminton to such great feats, none so much as by securing a medal for the first time in Women’s Badminton history, in the Badminton World Championship in 2011.
Amidst the flags of South Easian Asian nations now we see the rise of our very own athletes hoisting the Tiranga representing the Ashokan Chakra. It seems now that every passing year a new era in sporting history is created by our budding Indian athletes in one Sport or the other, for the while however Badminton players are captivating our attention and rightly so.