Meet Noida’s teen shuttlers on the rise
INTRO: Two junior badminton players from Gautam Budh Nagar district—Samayara Panwar (13) and Vansh Deo (10)—have finished in No.1 spot in the annual rankings of Badminton Association of India. HT looks at how Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy is fast becoming a hub for some of country’s best shuttlers
Meet the all-India under-15 badminton No.1—Noida’s Samayara Panwar, who is all of 13 years old. Not only was Samayara adjudged the sharpest under-15 shuttler out there by Badminton Association of India (BAI), she also qualified for national tourneys in under-15 and under-17 categories, both meant for athletes better physically developed than her. But that’s no surprise as the lanky class 9 student is also the state’s defending champion in girls’ under-15 and -17 categories.
“To do well in competitive sport, you must have a killer instinct,” she said, adding that what she loves best is to beat her opponents consistently. No wonder she idolizes Spain’s Carolina Marin. “Among the Indian badminton players, I love the games of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu,” she said.
The only daughter of Amit Panwar and Anjali Panwar, Samayara turned to badminton as a “recreational spot” when her first family moved to Greater Noida in December 2014 from a sleepy hamlet in Shamli district. Nobody had ever imagined that she would emerge as the shuttle-queen of Uttar Pradesh.
“Since we were new and our children needed some recreation, I asked her to start playing badminton in the housing society’s court. After 15 days, the club manager told me that he saw immense talent in Samayara. Six months later, we decided to take her to Malaysia, which is believed to be the best training ground for junior shuttlers,” father Amit said, adding that there she was trained by world champion Fu Haifeng there but rejected by all coaches in India.
“All of them said Samayara’s technique was incorrect. After four months, we finally found Siddharth Jain, but too moved to Canada after six months. However, this time was enough for him to cement the basics of my child,” he said, adding that Samayara got her first real break in 2017 when when Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy opened near their society.
“It has five international coaches headed by Indonesian-born coach Kesit Sutrisno. Under their training, Samayara has won many state and national level championships, even in the higher age groups,” Amit added.
But achievements at this young age don’t faze Samayara, said aother Anjali, a homemaker. “I have to say that my daughter is very disciplined,” she said, adding that as a mother it is her fond hope that her daughter does her country proud one day.
“She is different from other girls of her age group. She never watches TV or plays games on the cellphone. Her exercise begins everyday at 7am for two hours. In the evening, she reaches academy by 4pm and undergoes rigorous training for five more hours. She also meditates at home,” Anjali said, adding that her school has given her special leave so she can focus on her game ahead of the nationals.
Samayara’s coach Kesit Sutrisno said the training methods of the academy are unique. “I am sure that Samayara will lift her game and win accolades at the international level soon,” he said.