Badminton champion Ashwini Ponnappa making waves
Besides bagging this year’s Karnataka Rajyotsava award, she featured in actor Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Kaun Banega Crorepathi show’ where the legendary actor spoke highly of the Generals from Kodagu.
The 21-year-old Ashwini paired with Jwala Gutta, both attractive women in the Indian sports arena, and pulled off a historic victory, which was least expected by Ashwini.
Speaking on her victory, Ashwini said: “”Honestly, I didn’t know we would win gold, medals yes, but gold…it was such a sweet surprise. Of course, we did play well against the toughest of players. Whoever says there was no competition, I request them to take to the court, play and then speak. We put up a great fight, only then did we get the gold.””
Ashwini completed her schooling in Bangalore and moved to Hyderabad for her Bachelor’s Degree. In 2001, she won the Indian junior championships. She won the gold medal at the South Asian Games held in 2006. Ashwini and Jwala have been on a career high when they had reached No. 13 in world ranking. “”I was so thrilled when we reached No. 13. That was our best so far. But nobody even noticed us. I was so hurt, not because I want to be in news but because I think badminton deserves to be in news as much as any other sport, especially if players are performing well”, she said.
Ashwini has played singles as well as mixed doubles. But she enjoys the women’s doubles the most. “”That’s because I get to ‘hit, hit, hit’ from the back. I don’t particularly like playing from the net because I am good at smashes and those are played well from the back.””
Her father Ponnappa who works for the Reserve Bank of India at Hyderabad was a hockey player and was in the Indian hockey camp during the 1982 Asiad. He has attributed his daughter’s success to hard work and devotion to the game. Ashwini has won the State championships in the Under-16, U-19 women’s categories in the singles and doubles events and is a recipient of the State Ekalavya award and Karnataka Olympic Association award.