Badminton star Ashwini Ponnappa gets busy bettering her game

Ashwini Ponnappa sits 28th and 30th in women’s and mixed doubles respectively on the Olympic Qualification rankings list and wants to improve it.

By Olympic Channel Writer ·

Veteran Indian badminton doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa has decided to use her free time in isolation to cover up the chinks in her armour before the badminton season resumes.

After ending 2018 with a bronze and a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games alongside women’s doubles partner N Sikki Reddy and mixed doubles partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, the 30-year-old’s form saw a dip last year.

Unable to move past the first hurdle in 13 of the 20 tournaments she played in 2019, Ashwini Ponnappa’s only highlights were reaching the final of the Hyderabad Open and the Maldives International Challenge alongside N Sikki Reddy.

Now, with some breathing space available with BWF suspending all tournaments owing to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bengaluru-born shuttler is looking at ways to improve herself.

“We don’t have anyone to sit and do analysis for us, so now that we have time, I’m doing some analysis of our performances,” Ashwini Ponnappa told the Press Trust of India.

“I am jotting down points, about areas where I can improve. I started with my matches and then other players on tour.

Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy sits 28th in the Race to Tokyo - BWF Olympic Qualification rankings table

“You can always watch and analyse and understand the patterns but it is different when you see things on paper. It is more concrete. So trying to set up a complete database,” added the shuttler, who has represented India at the Olympic Games in London and Rio.

An outside chance

Ashwini Ponnappa’s Tokyo Olympics aspirations, however, took another hit when she got injured during the Syed Modi International tournament last year.

An underperforming year preceding the Games meant that her chances of representing India at the Tokyo Olympics in both the women’s and mixed doubles are now slim.

While she sits 28th in the women’s doubles category of the Race to Tokyo - BWF Olympic Qualification rankings table, she is placed 30th in the mixed doubles category alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.

With the new cut-off date for Olympic qualification scheduled on April 29, 2021, the Indian badminton duo would hope to climb to the top 16 to seal their Olympic berth. 

However, with the revamped qualification criteria yet to be announced, Ashwini Ponnappa is still in the dark.

“Me and Sikki were confident of doing well in the four-five tournaments left but now no one knows what would be the criteria of Olympic qualification, and BWF can’t really say anything with things changing every moment,” she stated.