Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Interview with Arundhati Pantawane

Arundhati Pantawane, is one of India's best upcoming badminton players. She emerged a surprise runner-up at this year's National championships that was held at Rohtak, in Haryana, and then followed this up with another great Silver medal winning performance at the Estonian International tournament.

I recently had the pleasure of having a chat with her, that was followed by an interview.
Here's what she has to say.

Hi Arundhati, please tell us more about your family background. And how did you happen to turn from athletics to badminton?

Arundhati Pantawane
Arundhati Pantawane said:
Well, my father is an athletics coach and my mother was also an athlete, so I used to do athletics, the 100m and 200m. As a kid, I also used to go with my father to play badminton. Then slowly I started to develop more interest in badminton, then I joined some coaching camps back in Nagpur, and then started entering into competitions.

Then one day it so happened that both my athletics finals and my badminton finals were on the same date and time. My parents decided that I should opt for the badminton match, and so I left my athletics finals and went in for badminton. And I lost that badminton final match, whereas if I would have ran my 100 m. finals, I could have easily won it. But still we continued with the badminton. And because of that one decision I am here.

Being a Nagpur girl, has the road to success been tougher than others? Does Nagpur have as many badminton facilities as in Mumbai or Pune?

Arundhati Pantawane :
Well, being a nagpur girl, yes, there was a struggle. but I never thought of it that way. Actually I was quite small at that time and I never used to understand that why its always me… but we (me and my parents) were like, its ok, and it happens to every sports person. So we didn’t care about the people, we just worked hard and hard.

And Nagpur does have badminton facilities, though they are not really as good as those available in Mumbai or Pune. I used to go to Subhedar hall from 5 to 7 pm. And we used to have only 2 courts for the first hour, and then only one court for next one hour, and there were 20 students playing at the same time. I never used to get to play more than 15 min. on court. But then I used to do lots of physical training, which is helping me a lot now.
Later on, I joined the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad, and now I have been training there since the last 4 years.

And, how did this playing as a professional, for the Stockholm based Taby club come about?
Arundhati Pantawane :
Well, one day Atik Jauhari, the Indonesian coach who was also our national coach, gave me this offer. He had been coaching in Sweden before getting into the contract with India, and my club owner Kent Kotte is good friend of him. So he asked me and I was ready to accept the contract for a year. This is how I got this contract, because of Atik Sir.

And how has been your experience of playing in the Club circuit at Sweden? Is there any difference between the work culture of club circuit badminton players in Sweden and those in India?

Arundhati Pantawane :

Well, its great here. Everyone was excited when I came here. And then I started playing good, started winning matches for the club, and all the team members and the coaches were happy. Its really fun being with them. I have developed a good rapport with the players and the coaches and the people over here. They are really very nice. And they are always asking me about the Indian culture.

As far as badminton is concerned, there is a difference between the playing strength in India and in Sweden. Our Indian players standard is quite high compared to the Swedish players.

You did not play any international matches in 2010. Was there any particular reason for this?
Arundhati Pantawane :
No particular reason for this, actually. At the start of the year I was not at all in form. I was in very bad form, in fact. So, then I just concentrated on my practice at the start of the year, and then later on I played in Bangalore, started performing well, then came to Sweden and started playing tournaments here. 

Then played in the Asian Games. Then again it was back to Sweden, so its almost been travel travel and travel this whole year. First I wanted to get into good ranking in India, and then try for Internationals, that was my aim.

You almost clinched the National title this year. And now this Silver medal at the Estonian open. What is the reason for this sudden success?
Arundhati Pantawane :
Actually, in the Nationals I didn’t expect that I will be playing the finals. Frankly, I was expecting to reach till quarters and semis. Well, whatever the result was I am satisfied. Even in the Estonian Open, it was quite unexpected.

There is no reason as such behind this success. Whenever I go on court, I just try to give my best, and try to do all those things which I have learnt from my coach.

How did it feel like playing in the finals of the Nationals? What was your game plan against Aditi?
Arundhati Pantawane :
Well, as I told you, being in the finals was quite unexpected. It felt great. But really felt bad after losing the match, but never minded it, coz I have lot more to go. And I can only say to myself, Better LUCK next time..!!!
And there was no game plan as such against Aditi. I had already beaten her up in team events. So I was pretty confident, my body was good, everything was ok. But in the 3rd game she played very patiently and I was all in a hurry. May be this is one of the reasons, that I lost the match. Well, there is always a next time.

Who are your favorite badminton players, from India & outside of India?
Arundhati Pantawane : I have only one favorite and that’s my coach P.Gopichand. I like his attitude, his personality. His game…. I want to become like him.

And, what are the goals that you have set for yourself for 2011?
Arundhati Pantawane : My goal in 2011 is to get good International ranking by the year end.

Thanks a lot for your time, Arundhati, and wish you all the very best for the future.

Hope you earn lots of success!

Related Links:

Arundhati Pantawane - Profile

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