Khelo India Youth Games: 13-year-old Taslim Mir clinches U-17 badminton title

Gujarat’s Taslim Mir defeats Manasi Singh 23-21, 21-16.

Taslim Mir added a gold medal for Gujarat in the Khelo India Youth Games. Photo: Special Arrangement

Gujarat’s Taslim Mir defeated Manasi Singh to clinch the U-17 badminton singles title at the Khelo India Youth Games 2019 on Sunday.

The 13-year-old kept her rival chasing the shuttle-cock across the court, and scored points with half-smashes and drops, for a 23-21, 21-16 win. Slick movements and controlled strokeplay marked her out in the contest.

The Khelo India Youth Games seem to be child’s play for Mir. Thanks to her win, Gujarat added a gold medal to its tally.

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Mir’s career rise has been sharp. Belonging to Mehsana, she was introduced to badminton by her father in the city’s Police Club, and natural talent opened many doors for her. A victory over P. Gopichand Academy trainee Meghana Reddy at the Nationals in 2016 led the Academy to inquire whether she would be interested to enrol there for further training. Taslim’s parents agreed, and there has been no looking back since; she stays with her mother there, and trains for eight hours in two sessions.

Learning by observing

Mir, a student studying in the ninth standard at Shree Sarvajanik Vidyalaya, Mehsana, is a fan of Chinese Taipei’s World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying; she was her junior team-mate at Ahmedabad Smash Masters in the Premier Badminton League last year. “I like Tai Tzu because she is different from other leading players good at deception. Language is a problem for her, we learn by watching her focussed preparation and of course in matches,” Mir said.

Taslim Mir is a fan of World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying (in picture). Photo: AP


Thanks to her prowess, Mir has played big tournaments, too. She travelled to Mandalay (Myanmar) as part of the Indian squad for the Badminton Asia Junior Championships. There, she partnered Meghana to return with the doubles gold in girls’ U-15; in the singles, she bowed out in the quarterfinals.

Sacrifices by family

Sporting ambitions have resulted in sacrifices made by the Mir family. Her sister and brother, who also plays badminton, stay separately with home-maker mother, and father, who is a policeman. “Father is working on my brother’s game. We hope he develops with age,” Mir said.

In the fourth season of the PBL, there are no juniors touring with the squads. So, the trip to Pune is a breather for her before badminton classes resume at the Hyderabad facility in Gachibowli. “Eight hours training, two sessions and rest in the afternoon and at night,” she rattles off the routine. Then, she lists the advantages: “I get to train with different types of players, the experience has improved my game and made me confident on court.”

The results (all finals)

Girls U-15 singles: Taslim Mir (GUJ) bt Manasi Singh (UP) 23-21, 21-16.

Doubles: Aarya Deshpande & Ananya Shirke (MAH) bt Sakshi Asrani & Anushka Mehta (RAJ) 21-16, 21-13.

U-21 singles: Aakarshi Kashyap (CHD) bt Malvika Bansod (MAH) 21-11, 21-16.

Boys U-17 singles: Gandham Rao (TEL) bt Ravi (HAR) 15-21, 21-18, 21-11.

Doubles: Nikunj Pandey & Shubham Patel (RAJ) bt C S Koushtik & R Vikash Prabhu (TN) 21-15, 22-20.

U-21 singles: Sanjay Aman (MAH) bt Rahul Bharadwaj (KAR) 21-17, 23-21.

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