Building on her impressive form in 2022, Indian badminton player Malvika Bansod defeated her idol Saina Nehwal on Thursday, January 13, in the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2022 quarterfinals at KD Jadhav Stadium in New Delhi.
“The feeling is surreal; he didn’t drown. Playing against someone I looked up to was a dream come true. This was the biggest win of my career so far, because I’ve never played against the best player,” he said. Bansod spoke with A logical Indian.
Victory or defeat was not her primary thought; playing against Nehwal was an opportunity in itself. In a 34-minute match, the Nagpur shuttle defeated Nehwal 21-17, 21-9 in the women’s singles match of the second round.
Bansod played the first game against player Samiye Farooqi and in the first game he defeated her 21-18 and 21-9. In the preparatory quarters, she faced Nehwal and beat her 21-17 and 21-9.
She played with no. 76 Aakarshi Kashyap for a place in the semifinals on Friday. Earlier this month, Bansod defeated Kashyapa at the All India Senior Rankings of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) held in Hyderabad.
For her, it all started at the age of nine, when her mother involved her in sports to develop physical skills and maintain a healthy lifestyle. She is enrolled in a nearby badminton hall. Her family was a sports enthusiast, given the history of her grandfather, a great tennis player and badminton player of her time.
The first tournament
She played 1 hour every day three days a week. After a few months, the little virtuoso played in the under-10 category at the district level and made it to the semifinals of the first game of her life.
By the time she arrived in her teens, Bansod had more recognition than many athletes her age. Parents realized that their child made sense of it. As much as you are thrilled with your daughter’s success, being a parent of miracles requires dedication. There are costs for training and travel, training, time spent in competitions and so on.
Her parents supported her throughout her journey, from managing expenses to managing time for her.
Her most recent victories were the prestigious Sudirman Cup and the Uber Cup, a two-year international badminton championship featuring mixed teams of members of the World Badminton Federation (BWF).
It was nothing less than a golden opportunity for Bansod. She was given the opportunity to play with some of the world’s most prominent players, including Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand and Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland.
Rehearsals for the selection were a success in themselves for Bansod, as she defeated all of her opponents in pool and knockout matches at the Pullela Gopichand Academy, Hyderabad.
In December 2021, she won the women’s singles title at the All India Senior Badminton Tournament in Hyderabad.
Love for Nehwal
Ever since she stepped into the sport, Nehwal has been her icon. “She is the only one I have seen since childhood. PV Sindhu came later, but at first I only knew Saina Nehwal.
Bansod has been calling Nehwala the flag bearer of women’s badminton in India for almost a decade. “We all know that she is a dedicated and great athlete, and she motivated me and I will always be motivated by her will and strength,” Bansod speaks ecstatically.
Reflecting on the win, Bansod expressed gratitude to her coach, Sanjay Mishra, the junior head coach. Mishra traveled with her at most of her tournaments and had a good relationship with Bansoda.
Impact of the pandemic on training
Like all citizens and other athletes, Bansod had to endure the difficult phase of COVID-19 from 2020. The epidemic was a challenge for younger players, especially those who were just starting their sports career or were one step ahead, with a strict blockade, stagnant rankings, tournaments and training sessions.
Earlier, Bansod traveled from her hometown of Nagpur to Raipur Stadium for training, by road or train. But a blockade was introduced to stop it. Despite the difficulties, she practiced everything she could with herself.
When the quarantine was relaxed, coach Mishra resumed training for several athletes, including Bansoda. He arranged sessions and trainings for the players.
The player’s daily regimen has been negatively affected, especially in the last few months. Bansod says she has adapted to changes in the tournament schedule at the last minute, training in the middle of COVID. “It hasn’t been a month since I’ve been sleeping on the same bed all the time. I travel to different camps and tournaments every day. It’s been a tough routine for me,” she says.
Badminton and physical challenges
Bansod calls Badminton one of the most physically demanding sports, and one should be ready to maintain that intensity at the highest level. “If you’re watching a competition at the top 10 level, then you have to have a lot of strength.”
Performance under pressure?
It’s not always easy to hold together when you feel like winning is everything. But the mantra of Nagpura’s genius is different, because it does not come easily under pressure. She believes that the best skills are not valuable if athletes cannot perform when it is most important.
“I overcome the pressure when I look back on my preparations. I calm down, I remind myself of all the hard work that has gone through in practice and I am convinced. You need to go out, give your best, play freely and play your natural game. You don’t have to do anything impose; maintain a basic strategy, “ the player tells us.
Gender and sports
The player describes badminton as a sport that requires explosive strength, speed, endurance and agility, all of which are more developed in men than in women. “When you look at explosive power, men can hit a shot in a jump more effectively than us; the same goes for their speed.”
Bansod says the challenges don’t stop players from leading. Women can discover more tactics, such as buying more time for themselves, also hitting punches, etc., it is equally important to get the most out of every workout.
Message For Generation
Realizing how difficult the world has been for women in general, we are required to be more agile and committed, Bansod says. “Not just badminton, women who plan to pursue any profession of their choice, they must always believe in themselves. There is no doubt that we can conquer the world on our own.”
The 20-year-old star is now looking forward to appearing at next week’s Super 300 tournament in Lucknow. This will be Bansodu’s first time playing in the Super 300.