‘Competitive’ Humpy braces up for Olympiad

The 31-year-old will stage a comeback to the big league in September, after having taken her biggest break from sport for the sake of family.

Koneru Humpy admitted preparations have been difficult for the upcoming Olympiad, after her long break from chess.   -  Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar

At 31, GM Koneru Humpy is on the way to staging a comeback to the big league — playing in the Olympiad in Georgia from September 23 this year. Having been away from the sport for the sake of family — her baby girl is now 11 months old — Humpy has quietly slipped into the preparatory mode since four months in the company of her coach-cum-father Koneru Ashok.

“I didn’t realise when many were saying that it would be difficult to sustain a sporting career after marriage. Now, I realise how priorities change and more so it is very difficult for women who have to take care of their family and focus on the sport if they were keen to stage a comeback,” said a smiling Humpy in an exclusive interview with Sportstar on Wednesday.

“It is not a conscious decision to make my comeback directly in the Olympiad. It is just happening as originally I planned to compete in one or two international events but because I had to take care of my baby, I had to drop my plans,” she said.

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The soft-spoken Humpy admitted preparations have been difficult for the event. Reflecting on what her biggest challenge will be in the Olympiad — a tourney she will be playing for the first time since 2006 — she said, “The emphasis is more in me recollecting all my own variations and not certainly player-to-player preparations.”

‘Never going to be easy’

“It is never going to be easy but certainly not impossible as I am already in the competitive mood, working on [a] lot of things thanks to my father,” says the 2006 Asiad double gold medallist (individual and mixed team event). Humpy acknowledged the complete support of her family, including husband Dasari Anvesh.

“Well, this Indian women’s team is one of the strongest ever and interestingly I will be playing with [D.] Harika for the first time. Quite funnily, myself and Tania (Sachdev) are the senior-most players,” Humpy said. “Since Olympiad is a team event, the pressure should not be too much as we can always comeback despite a setback. For sure, it will be a joy to be with my fellow players and try to bring honours for the country,” she added.

‘No long-term plans’

What about chess beyond Olympiad? “Obviously, I will be competing only in select Open tournaments. So, there are no long-term plans,” the champion player from Vijayawada said.

“Surely, I am still chasing the dream of becoming a world champion having won almost all majors over the last 20 years as I got the feel of the 64 squares back with all seriousness despite some expected distractions,” Humpy concluded.

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