Samiya playing in a bigger world to grow up faster

Last year’s under-15 Asian champion, Hyderabad's Samiya Imad Farooqui is another top talent nurtured at the Gopichand Academy.

"Being in Gopi’s academy, you grow up faster in badminton," 15-year old Samiya Imad Farooqui said.   -  Thulasi Kakkat

As a little girl, Samiya Imad Farooqui was very fussy about having her food. When her worried parents consulted a doctor, he advised the little girl to try badminton.

“The doctor told my parents that I would come back hungry if I played badminton. That was how it all started. I must have been six then,” said the 15-year-old from Hyderabad on the sidelines of the RSC all-India senior ranking badminton tournament at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here on Thursday evening.

And she virtually started at one of the best places for the sport in the country: at the Gopi Chand Academy.

Samiya won the under-15 Asian singles title, the biggest prize of her budding career, in Myanmar last year but when just when her badminton life appeared set to take off came a big injury.

“In fact, it happened during the under-15 Asian final last October. I had a bit of pain even before the final but when I was just five points away from the title, I twisted my ankle badly,” said Samiya one of the bright young faces in Indian badminton.

“Somehow I won the title but it was an ankle ligament tear and I lost four months.”

Read: Saina, Srikanth enter quarterfinals of French Open

So, was she restless or agitated during those four months away from the sport?

“No, I was just chilling out,” she said with a smile.

Life for a badminton player is tough and it’s tougher when one trains at the Gopi Chand Academy, a centre which has been churning out some of the world’s best players.

“In this field, life is tough everywhere. You get up at five and have three sessions every day,” explains Samiya. “And there’s no regular school…I’m in open school, in the 10th, a tough year and I have a lot of tuitions.”

But the Gopi Chand Academy is also a place where there is a good chance of a player’s dreams coming true, especially with stars like Saina Nehwal and P.V.Sindhu, both Olympic medallists, and K. Srikanth, who was the men’s World No. 1 not very long ago, around.

“Being in Gopi’s academy, you grow up faster in badminton. And I think, I’m doing well for my age,” said Samiya who skipped the under-17 age-group and started playing the under-19 and women’s circuit to learn faster from the bigger world.

“I hope I start doing well in the international circuit in the next two to three years,” she said.