Hunger to improve as a player keeps Ashwini Ponnappa going

Having turned 30 last year, the Indian badminton ace’s hunger and love for the sport are strong as ever.

By Utathya Nag ·

Indian badminton star Ashwini Ponnappa is taking life's challenges in her stride.

Having struggled with injuries recently, Ashwini Ponnappa had a forgettable 2019 season, exiting 13 of the 20 tournaments she played in the first round.

Her poor run of form has also been a big blow to her qualification chances for the Tokyo Games.

But the Indian ace is determined to bounce back.

“The whole process of growing as a player is the number one thing that keeps me going. I still want to grow,” she outlined her driving motivation to fellow Indian badminton player Sanjana Santosh during an Instagram Live session.

With the pandemic situation having halted most sporting activities worldwide, keeping motivation levels high is a new challenge for athletes in lockdown.

For Ashwini Ponnappa, the insatiable desire to keep learning and improving does the trick.

“It’s like a beginning for me, a fresh start in a lot of ways. What motivates me to get up every morning and work out despite not knowing when the next tournament is, is this quest of mine to learn and grow. There’s so much to learn, it’s amazing.

“The most important thing right now is to be prepared for once the time comes to get back on court,” she noted.

Reiterating the importance of a positive mindset in these testing times, the shuttler added, “Right now is also a good time to go back and understand why we train and why we play. The most important thing is we love the sport and what can stop you from getting better at a sport that you love?”

Age just a number

Ashwini Ponnappa, over the course of her career, has firmly established herself as one of the most successful shuttlers in the history of Indian badminton.

The Bengaluru-born player who turned 30 last year, however, feels she still has a long way to go.

“I may be 30 years old but I don’t think it’s the end of the world. I still feel there’s so much I have in me, gamewise. There’s still so much I can learn, work on and improve upon,” she said.

With as many as five Commonwealth Games medals, one Asian Games bronze and a World Championships bronze, the doubles specialist boasts an impressive medals tally.

The special Olympic experience

Ponnappa has had the chance to represent her country at two Olympic Games - London 2012 and Rio 2016.

The doubles specialist gave her insight into what makes the sporting extravaganza so special.

“The air of being there, it’s unexplainable,”said of her Olympic experience. “You go there and automatically you are confident because you know you are there representing your country.

“You know you have a purpose and want to give it your best because you want to do well for your country.

“By being there, you get this energy. Everyone around you is there to do well for their country. There’s a lot of positivity, determination, enthusiasm, pride,” she summed up.