'Every National title I won was covered by the magazine'

Aparna Popat in action in the BPL all-India badminton championship in Bangalore on July 21, 1998.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

I started playing when I was eight years old and I played for a good 18 years continuously. After retirement, I just feel badminton was my calling; it was my safe space. In high-pressure situations when I was on court, I was calm, so I feel it was my space to be in. It’s given me a lot — of course in terms of achievements but more so, in terms of who I am today.

Growing up, Steffi Graf was my idol and I remember one particular Sportstar poster of Steffi Graf was in my room. I remember cutting out posters and making a scrap book of her pictures, articles and interviews, all thanks to Sportstar.

More than the posters, it was the only sports magazine that you could go to and it was so extensive that you could get a piece of every sport. Every Nationals that I won, starting in 1989, it was documented in Sportstar.

Sportstar kind of lived through with me in my journey during the 16 or 17 titles that I won. Even when I won the silver medal at the World Junior Championship, they did a very, very nice feature. At a time when not too many people were covering, it was special. Now when you look back, it was a World Championship and it was India’s first medal (at the Worlds) and the magazine realised it and did justice to me.

Sportstar was the one magazine which covered all the important events, be it the sub-junior or junior Nationals or the big international events and gave you a spectrum. The main thing is that it exposed you to all the sports. And the posters as well, it was top-class.

(As told to Amol Karhadkar)

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