Years ago, when her parents gifted her a badminton racket, little did they know they were shaping her future. Today, she is representing the country for the first time at the upcoming Olympics.Meet Ashwini Ponnappa
To one of the most popular gyms in the city comes a young girl, who does her workouts like any other fitness enthusiast present there. She is diligent with her routine, barely ever complains, and mostly seems to love being incognito. But she is not your average girl — she trains for a reason — she shoulders the responsibility of representing India at the Olympics set to take place in London this year. She is Ashwini Ponnappa, India’s charge for badminton.
After striking up a conversation with her, I found a really down-to-earth woman whose interest lies in performing better. What in the first place triggered off her affair with the racquet I ask her, and she tells me, “I was too young to decide anything really. But being a hyperactive kid, I took away a lot of my mum’s time from my brother who was a baby then. To keep me occupied, I was given the racket, and that is how my affair began.”
Obviously, for a girl who has won many tournaments since then, and for who, a constant pressure to perform is the order of the day, how does she deal with it ? “I think I get the right amount of attention — not too less, and not too much, and I like it that way. But the last few months have been pretty stressful, and sometimes, I do get snappy. But when I go out with my friends for dinners or to the movies, I am more relaxed and ready to take on more.”
As she sips on her green tea, she recollects her childhood as being the best anyone could ever ask for. She says, “I never felt differentiated as a kid. My parents never distinguished me from my brother, and I think that is the greatest place any kid can grow up in. I am truly a lucky girl. Around me, I see women progressing in all fields, and I think they should get better in all walks of life. And am sure that we are on the right path.
Like any other girl, Ashwini loves watching movies whenever she gets the time. She says, “I recently watched The Notebook movie and just fell in love with it! Rachel McAdams is a fantastic actress. I also loved The Vow, also starring Rachel McAdams – and she was fantastic in that too. I enjoy the easy romantic comedies.”
Living in Hyderabad is an experience like no other says Ashwini. “Four years down, I have a few friends here, and thankfully get some time off my work. The roads here are much better than they are in Bengaluru. But sometimes,
I notice that people thrive on ‘connections’ to get their work done.
Sometimes, there is a sense of unrealistic living which I don’t understand. After all, it is not about how much you earn, or what kind of car you drive that determines who you are.”
A fighter she maybe on the field, but off it, she lives the simple life of a normal girl — a trait so charming that an hour later, at the end of our conversation, I forget the sports star that she is, after letting you peek into the life of a girl with hopes, dreams and aspirations, just like any other.
First Job: With ONGC to play their tournaments.
Motto: I learnt this in school, and it remains what I follow ever since, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Last book read: Haven’t read one in a long time!
Last Movie: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel