Ishita hoping to punch above her weight

In continuation with the weekly series on woman achievers from the tricity, which Hindustan Times started on Women’s Day (March 8), we feature 14-year-old national level shuttler Ishita, who created a flutter last month by winning a total of eight medals in the UT state c’ships. She is now gearing up for higher age group tournaments to improve her standing in the all-India rankings charts.
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Updated on Dec 29, 2014 04:25 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Kuldeep Panwar, Chandigarh

A few days ago, Ishita made an exhausting 33-hour return journey from Patna, hit the bed at her Sector-40 residence at 2am, but was up three hours later for her badminton coaching classes. While Manchander Kumar had to persuade his 14-year-old daughter to skip the training session for more rest, the girl’s act speaks volumes about her passion for the sport.

This zeal for badminton has, in fact, done Ishita great good, with the youngster giving some very strong performances at state and national level competitions.

A case in the point was the last month’s Chandigarh state badminton championship, where the local shuttler created a flutter by clinching a total of eight medals. The spectacular haul also got the youngster the ‘player of the tournament’ award.

“Winning eight medals, even in a state competition, felt so surreal. It will surely be one of my most memorable moments of this year,” said Ishita, who picked up the basics of the sport from her father and elder brother Gaurav before switching to professional coaching three years ago.

“While I have been playing badminton since childhood, the thought of pursuing the sport more seriously came after I won the gold, my first medal, in the under-10 event of a Tricity tournament four years ago. Taking note of my growing interest in badminton, my father put me under the guidance of Mahajan sir,” shares the national level player, who studies in Class 9th at Delhi Public School, Sector 40, and trains under former Sports Authority of India coach Surinder Mahajan at Panjab University badminton centre. In these four years, Ishita’s performance at the state championships has gone from strength to strength, her swelling medal tally an evidence of the fact: In 2011, Ishita won a silver medal in the under-13 singles event, and the next year, she claimed gold in both U-13 singles and doubles events; at the same tournament, she also punched above her weight by winning singles and doubles events of the under-15 age-group section.

In 2013, she successfully defended her twin under-15 crowns, and this year the eight-medal haul, including gold medals in the under-15 (singles and doubles sections), under-17 (singles and doubles) and under-19 (doubles) events, silver in under-19 singles and a bronze medal each in the singles and doubles section of the women event, further increased her reputation as one of the most promising shuttler of the city.

Besides, her medal tally from different editions of UT inter-school tournament stands at four, including three silver and one gold.

In addition to that, Ishita has also been competing in the different age-group sections of junior national championships since 2011, and, earlier this year, gave her best ever performance by reaching the singles and doubles pre-quarterfinals of the under-15 Nationals in Rohtak.

As of recently, she participated in the under-17 and under-19 Nationals in Patna last week.

“My plan for the next year is to play as many ranking tournaments as possible in order to improve my rankings in the under-17 and under-19 national charts. My ultimate aim, though, is to play for the country some day,” says Ishita, who ranks 76th in the under-17 singles section, and regards Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal and Chinese world number 2 (women) Wang Shixian as her role models.

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