Before my matches, I love to watch dance videos, reveals Ashwini

In an interaction with DT Next, Ashwini, who was in the city recently for the Red Bull ‘Shuttle Up’ national final, spoke about how she derives inspiration from personalities in different sports, the athlete she admires the most, watching dance videos prior to her matches and more.
Ashwini Ponnappa clicks a selfie with Red Bull ‘Shuttle Up’ participants.
Ashwini Ponnappa clicks a selfie with Red Bull ‘Shuttle Up’ participants.

CHENNAI: A question on her liking for sports other than badminton led to an eye-opening conversation with doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa.

In an interaction with DT Next, Ashwini, who was in the city recently for the Red Bull ‘Shuttle Up’ national final, spoke about how she derives inspiration from personalities in different sports, the athlete she admires the most, watching dance videos prior to her matches and more.

EXCERPTS

You spend a lot of time on court, so how do you unwind?

After training, I watch drama series (laughs). I watch a lot of Asian dramas. When I am tired, I like resting at home. I also like to watch something which is fun, hang out with friends, read a book etc. Reading varies because I like listening to audio books. If it is fiction, I read it. If it is non-fiction, I prefer to listen. I cannot read non-fiction books.

What do you do when you are away from the court?

I play table tennis with my husband. To be honest, I need to get a hobby. I tried colouring and stuff; I tried cooking during [the] Covid [lockdowns]. The training sessions are really intense, so I rest once I come back home. Resting is pretty important for a sportsperson. I am careful with how I deal with my body. I play sports in which I would not get injured. Table tennis falls into that bracket. Once in a blue moon, I hit some golf balls.

Do you follow any other sport?

I like to watch snippets of sports. I do not catch them live. Say for example, when a FIFA World Cup is going on, I will follow it. But, I will not follow a particular team or player [in that tournament]. I am someone who takes inspiration from a lot of people.

Talking about personalities, who are your inspirations?

If you ask me who my favourite sportsperson is, you would be surprised. The likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are great athletes; I would definitely like to learn a lot from them. But, the sportsperson I admire the most is Anthony Ervin.

Why Anthony Ervin?

He won his first Olympic Games gold medal [in 2000] when he was about 20 years old. He then won his next gold 16 years later. I look at athletes from different sports and their stories. For me, they are inspiring. The greats are always on top. When you look at athletes who have gone through adversities… who have left their sport and come back… they inspire you. We look at champions who keep winning. But, a lot of athletes do not have that. To see someone who has had it, fall, go and do everything under the sun, make a comeback and then win… that gives me a lot of hope. For about 10 to 12 years, he (Ervin) did everything other than swimming. To come back and win at that age… that gives me a lot of hope.

Has deriving inspiration from such stories helped in having a long career?

You have athletes who are doing well at the top. You also have athletes who are trying to get there. When they manage to get there, it gives all of us hope. Sadly in sport, there is only one winner. The journey towards achieving something… you have to make it beautiful.

Is there one fact about you that the fans do not know but you would like to reveal?

Before my matches, I love watching dance videos. I love the energy that the dancers have when they are dancing. I look at the passion which they have.

Back in the city, do you have any special memories of Chennai?

I have come to this stadium (the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium) many times during my teens. We used to have the Krishna Khaitan tournament. We used to stay close to the stadium. I won one of my first international medals in this city [in 2010].

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