Asian Badminton Team Championships: I think my life will change after this win, says Anmol Kharb

Anmol Kharb played a critical role in India’s triumph, overcoming a major rankings mismatch with all three of her singles matches at the Asian Badminton Team Championships.

Published : Feb 18, 2024 15:54 IST , New Delhi - 3 MINS READ

File Photo of Anmol Kharb.
File Photo of Anmol Kharb. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

File Photo of Anmol Kharb. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

They might have created history in Selangor, winning gold at the Asian Badminton Team Championships, but if Anmol Kharb is to be believed, the Indian team did not go into the tournament with high hopes.

“No one expected us to win gold. Our first goal was to top the group stage so that we would be in a better position to win a medal. We didn’t expect it (the medal) will be gold. I’m very happy that we bagged the gold medal because it’s the first time we have won the Asian Team championships. It feels like we have scripted history over here. It’s a really big thing for India, ” says Kharb, who sealed India’s win over Thailand with a 21-14, 21-9 win over Pornpicha Choeikeewong in the decisive singles match of the final tie.

It’s a result that Kharb is still processing. She played a critical role in the triumph, overcoming a major rankings mismatch with all three of her singles matches – against China’s World number 149 Wu Luo Yu in the group stage, against Japan’s World number 29 Natsuki Nidaira in the semifinal and against Thailand in the final. “Winning is special, but it was a bit crazy yesterday (when she beat Nidaira). Beating powerhouses like China and Japan is a big thing. A lot of people came up to me and said I played very well,” Kharb says.

READ | Anmol Kharb: The teen prodigy who scripted history by guiding India to its first Asian Team Championships title

Having already played a critical role in two team wins, the 17-year-old said she was confident of winning her singles match in the final should it come to that. “We thought we would try to win in the first three matches. Unfortunately, we lost the third (Ashmita Chaliha in singles) and fourth (women’s doubles pair of Priya Konjengbam and Shruti Mishra). The fifth match was our last hope, but we were confident that we would win the fifth match,” she says.

While the weight of expectations rested solely on her at that point, Kharb says she was never put under any pressure by her teammates. “I was feeling that I’d play my 100 per cent, but there was no pressure on me. The team also told me that I don’t need to take any pressure. They told me to just give my best,” she says.

ALSO READ | Badminton Asia Team Championships: Sindhu, Anmol, Treesa-Gayatri star as India lifts maiden title

Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu too, made the effort to calm the young players’ nerves. “Being in a team with Sindhu is great. Everyone is really friendly. Sindhu  didi is very calm and composed. We are juniors to her, so she just tells us to play our best and be calm. Her friendly nature is very good,” Kharb says. It wasn’t just Sindhu whom Kharb was grateful for in what was only her second senior international tournament and her first outside India. She thanked national coach Pullela Gopichand for sitting in her corner. “He is like the father of badminton. He was coaching me in between matches, which was a really big thing. I was very happy he was coaching me between points and sitting behind me,” she says.

And while she might have picked up the biggest result of her career, Kharb isn’t done just yet. “I have got a really good experience from this tournament. Everyone was my senior and higher ranked to me, so it was a good achievement. I’m pretty young to win this title. I’m very happy because it is a very big achievement at this age. I think my life will change after this win, but it will be in a good way because I will train harder to beat more senior players,” she says.

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