Cuttack: As an inspiration to many young girls of Odisha, Cuttack’s Rutaparna Panda became the first Odia girl to represent India in badminton in Asian Games. She has been selected in the 20-member badminton team for the upcoming Asian Games to be played in Jakarta, Indonesia from August 18.
A trainee in Badminton legend Pullela Gopichand’s Academy in Hyderabad, Rutaparna who just graduated from the junior level is all excited to leave a mark in the Jakarta Games.
Speaking exclusively to odishatv.in, Rutaparna said, “I am really excited for the Asian Games but certainly not nervous to play in such a big competition. I will get a chance to play against shuttlers from countries like China & Malaysia which will be a great experience for me.”
Rutaparna is the eldest daughter of businessman Ramachandra Panda of Chauliaganj in Cuttack who runs a small auto spare parts shop in the city.
She took up playing badminton professionally after watching her father playing during the winters in Cuttack. She used to remain awake till late in the night to watch her father play and learnt the basics from her father and practised in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. She also credits the support of her mother and younger sister Swetaparna, who also is a junior national-level badminton player.
To perform at the highest level family support is really essential. My parents' support has always been there for me. My mother was reluctant when I started off and wanted me to concentrate on studies but now she is happy with my achievements.
--- Rutaparna Panda
“My sister and I have played as partners in many tournaments including junior nationals. We also became East Zone champions in under-19 girls’ doubles category and I hope she will also do well in future,” she added.
Rutaparna Panda is now residing in Hyderabad for professional coaching at the Gopichand Academy since last one year. She was picked at the National Championships in Patna after the coaches from the academy saw the talent in this young girl.
“I was really happy when I got a call from the academy. Gopi Sir is really humble and friendly and his guidance along with the training and support from other coaches, physios and members of the academy has been instrumental in shaping up my career, said Rutaparna.
Rutaparna Panda and partner Arathi Sara Sunil defeated Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker by 21-10, 21-12 in Women's doubles final at the All India Senior Ranking Tournament in Bengaluru earlier this month which was a selection event marked by Badminton Association of India (BAI) for Asian Games.
“Last few tournaments were very helpful for me especially the Senior Ranking Tournament that I and Arathi won in Bengaluru. I will take a lot of positives from these tournaments and hope it will reflect in my game,” said Rutaparna.
Being a specialist doubles player, Rutaparna focuses on coordination with her partner and during the Asian Games she wants to concentrate on that as well.
Rutaparna said that she has already played with many senior international players like PV SIndhu and Saina Nehwal in the academy during weekends but their presence in the team during the Asian Games will be something really different and positive for her.