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Not resting on past laurels, Ashwini Ponnappa says she is always gunning for the top spot

Ponnappa claimed two medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and then, finished runners-up at Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. However, the Asian Games was not a smooth ride for the veteran as she was eliminated in the mixed doubles quarterfinals and in the team event.

other sports Updated: Oct 11, 2018 22:39 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ashwini Ponnappa,PV Sindhu,Jwala Gutta
Badminton - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Mixed Team Gold Medal Match - Carrara Sports Arena 2 - Gold Coast, Australia - April 9, 2018. Ashwini Ponnappa of India in action. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha(REUTERS)

When it comes to the Indian badminton scene, Ashwini Ponnappa has been a stalwart for the last few years. Even before the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu were dominating the global stage, Ponnappa won a historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2010 along with women’s doubles partner Jwala Gutta. While Jwala is contemplating retirement, Ashwini has emerged as the top doubles star in the country and she believes that the new doubles pairs need more encouragement.

“We have a lot of talent in the country but what we need is more encouragement. We need to send more pairs to various tournaments as it will help them in getting that much-needed exposure and that way, we will have a number of pairs who can play at that level,” Ponnappa told Hindustan Times.

Ashwini along with Gutta formed a formidable pair and they went to win a bronze at the 2011 World Championships, a bronze at the 2014 Asian Championships and silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. However, the pair decided to part ways after they failed to win a single game at the Rio Olympics 2016. While a majority of her success came as part of that team, Ponnappa is not worried about her future and she promised to give her best every time irrespective of the results.

“I am always gunning for the top spot. What I have achieved so far is in the past but what I am going to achieve in the future is not something I think about a lot. All I can do is to believe in my partnerships and give my hundred percent every time I step out on the court. If more successes come my way, it will be great. But if it doesn’t, I will retire knowing that I did my best,” she explained.

This year has been a mixed bag for Ponnappa. She claimed two medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast along with N Sikki Reddy and then, finished runners-up at Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. However, the Asian Games was not a smooth ride for the veteran as she was eliminated in the mixed doubles quarterfinals and in the team event, they were defeated by eventual winners Japan.

“It’s been a good year for me with two medals at the Commonwealth Games. The Asian Games was not as good but Sikki and I did reach the quarters and we were able to give the Chinese pair quite a fight. At the World Championships, I missed out on the semis narrowly with Sattwik but these results show that we are on the right track and I am personally aiming for big things,” she said with a smile.

During the match against Japan, Ashwini formed an unlikely partnership with PV Sindhu. The decision came as a surprise for most fans and although the pair was unable to beat the duo of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, Ponnappa believes that it was the strategy that failed them.

“I have always loved playing with Sindhu as she is a good doubles player. At the Asian Games, I was actually quite confident that we will do well but we were unable to strategise well. We have done well together in the past but this time, I think our strategy was wrong going into the encounter.”

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 21:48 IST