Becoming the first Indian with world No.1 spot in junior badminton is just a start: Tasnim Mir
16 year old shuttler Tasnim Mir, who hails from the city of Mehsana, Gujarat has accomplished a feat that a seasoned badminton player like Saina Nehwal and an Olympian gold medallist like PV Sindhu hasn’t been able to! Mir has become the first Indian to claim the world no.1 ranking in the under-19 girls singles category according to the latest Badminton World Federation junior rankings.
Mir’s love for badminton dates back to when she was a small girl, who used to trot along with her father to see him coach badminton players. “My father is a coach of badminton and when I was seven years old I used to accompany him to the stadium just to watch the sport of badminton. Initially I started playing badminton for fun but because I was good at it, I gradually started training with my father. I played professionally after participating and winning state tournaments. My first badminton partner and my first badminton match match was with my father!” shares Mir.
To be declared world #1 in the junior category is a big accomplishment. Yet, Mir isn’t overwhelmed by the achievement. “Mummy ne bola tha kal that I have become world #1 but I wasn’t overwhelmed by the news. My goal is to win an Olympic gold medal for India and perform well on a senior level. That’s why I didn’t take this news to be too big,” says Mir.
Mir was caught off-guard by the news of becoming world champion and wasn’t anticipating it at all. “I wasn’t expecting to ever be declared world #1 because last year jab rankings close kar di gayi thi, mera rank us samay world #2 tha. Kyunki main under-19 aur nahi khelne wali thi, mujhe laga tha, main world #2 par atak jaaongi. However they opened the rankings again after the tournaments I played at the end of last year and added points that I earned from those tournaments pushing me from world #2 to world #1. Since it was so last minute, it wasn’t expected at all!” says Mir.
While Mir might not be celebrating her achievement, her family is extremely happy. “My father is delighted as he has been my first coach. Also there’s no one from Mehsana, Gujarat who has attained this honour, so my parents are overwhelmed and proud of me. Main apne hard work se world #1 bani hun, kyunki mujhe bahut mushkil lagta tha yeh sab. To compete in international tournaments is quite hard and I toiled for it,” says Mir.
Mir’s life has been primarily consumed with badminton. So much such that, she didn’t get to do all the normal things a teen does. “Bachpan toh bilkul nahi raha aur kuch bhi aisa fun karne ko mila hi nahi. Toh normal life kafi miss ho gayi. Even if I do whatever I missed out on now, it won’t be the same because enjoying and experiencing things when you’re a kid is very different from experiencing them when you’re an adult. Kafi cheezien badminton ke liye choot gayi,” says Mir.
Coming from a family with a brother being a state champion too, Mir’s bonding with her sibling was unique. In the age of fighting with siblings, Mir was busy practicing badminton with her brother. “My brother is also a state champion in badminton. I have grown up playing badminton with my brother. We practice a lot together and I love the bond we have,” shares Mir.
Mir confesses that she misses out on making friends, going to parties and having a gala time with her family. When asked what she would like to do most if she had the time for it, Mir is quick to say, “Ghoomna miss karti hun, main. A stress free vacation is what I want. I do travel for my tournaments, however, always with a mindset of playing a match. I would love to visit Ladhak, Kashmir or the Himalayas with my family.”
Mir’s social media is full of her videos from her tough physical training. The shuttler confesses that the life of world #1 isn’t an easy one. “I also have to remain under a strict diet along with my training and I miss having chocolates and sweets a lot! Whenever I win a big tournament, I celebrate with a cheat day!” says the 16 year old.
Mir credits her family and her school for their support in her journey. “My mother and my school have been very supportive in my journey. I attended regular school only till sixth grade. Post that, I’ve just been sitting for my exams. My school has allowed me to sit for the final year exams and practice for the rest of the time.,” she says.
Mir is in Guwahati from the past four years, training under coach Edwin Iriawan from Indonesia who has coached the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. What’s next on her agenda? “In the next month I have international matches in Iran and Uganda and I’m preparing for that. My resolution for 2022 is to improve my rank while playing on a senior level,” says Mir.
The mark of a real sportsperson is the strength with which they deal with failure and Mir has some advise to give on the subject. “Apne career ko leke kabhi give up mat karna and hamesha hard work karna. Remain focused. I use to cry a lot when I used to lose a match in the starting. However, now I’ve learnt that winning and losing is a part of life and of a game. So if you don’t take winning or losing too emotionally, then you will learn with every game you play,” she says.
With Bollywood actors like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Huma Qureshi etc congratulating Mir for becoming world #1, Mir is having a hard time believing that things are happening so fast for her. “I couldn’t believe that they have put up a story congratulating me when I first heard it from people. I thought it was fake, but it was true and I felt really good about it. I am really grateful for their appreciation,” shares Mir as she signs off to hit the court for her next practice session!
Author tweets @FizzyBuddha