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Verve People
June 08, 2017

Feisty Achievers: Joshna Chinappa

Text by Tina Dastur. Photograph by Prateek Patel

For putting India on the squash map and winning multiple tournaments to secure the world number 10 rank in 2016

At eight, when most girls are busy playing hopscotch on school playgrounds, Joshna Chinappa was busy making frequent trips to the Madras Cricket Club and debating which sport — badminton or tennis — she would like to pursue professionally. While good at both, her family background (her father Anjan Chinappa and great-granduncle Field Marshall KM Cariappa were both squash players) saw her gravitate towards the lesser-known sport of squash. Her standout moment came in the 2014 Commonwealth Games doubles event, when she along with partner Dipika Pallikal Karthik became the first Indian players to win a gold medal; and her stellar performances saw her seize her career-highest World No. 10 rank in 2016.

The initial challenges
Squash wasn’t well known when I started playing, and getting financial assistance and sponsorships were tough. My parents could only afford to send me for a couple of tournaments a year and I had no choice but to travel alone from the age of 10, as it was expensive to have someone accompany me on each trip.

Training routine
I play about 15 tournaments a year. I love training, so preparing for an event really charges me up. Training each day lasts for about five hours. I work with my fitness trainer on my strength and conditioning and with my squash coach on court. I also do a lot of weight training, and agility and sprint sessions.

On injuries
They are always hard for athletes to deal with because sport is our livelihood and passion and to not be able to do something you love is heart-breaking. On the bright side, an injury can help put things into perspective…it can make you much stronger, both mentally and physically.

On women in sports
I feel it’s the women today who are really putting sports on the radar. We have so many achievers — strong, powerful women who have come from such diverse fields and backgrounds showing us how, with a little support, wonders can be achieved. It’s so great to see them work hard and win despite the tough circumstances they face. I’m sure that if they receive the support they truly deserve, the sky is the limit!

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