Padma Shri awardee Harika: 'Awards inspire us to work harder'

Padma Shri awardee Dronavalli Harika says she's still chasing the dream of becoming world no 1 and world champion.

Dronavalli Harika has won bronze at the World Championships three times.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam (File Photo)

Three-time World championship bronze medallist Dronavalli Harika says that to be named as one of the recipients of Padma Shri Award this year will stand out as a special moment in her career.

“It is a great feeling, no doubt. The fact that Padma Shri gets tagged to your name is some kind of a privilege which should only make you feel proud and look back with a sense of immense satisfaction,” says 28-year-old Harika in an exclusive chat with Sportstar from Gibraltar where she is playing an international event.

“This Padma Award is definitely going to be special for it also reminds the important achievements in your career. A huge motivational one as I plan ahead for the biggest events,” says the soft-spoken Harika.

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“Well, these awards for sportspersons are like huge inspiration to work harder every day. We keep doing that almost daily, no doubt. But since it also means winning some and losing some, these awards serve us as a reminder that we are going in the right direction,” says the champion chess player from Hyderabad.

“Obviously, it is not the end of it all. It only shows that we are in the right direction and keep working harder and harder,” she added.

Looking back at 2018, Harika says it has been a little disappointing. “In the first instance, I didn’t play too many tournaments because of my marriage preparations. Somewhere I lacked the energy and the desired practice,” the world no. 18 said.

“And, that was showing on my results towards the year-end. Hope to regain the winning touch at the earliest,” says Harika.

The quiet achiever who has a reputation of never raising a complaint, says she's still chasing the dream of being a world champion and world no. 1.

“I am sure if I show the dedication and the self-belief, I would definitely be able to achieve it one day. And I am conscious that I should just focus on improving the game,” she says. “I won all the titles which a chess player would love to except for the world championship. So, it is important for me to show consistency in my game and perform at the best level, improving and learning my game better,” says Harika.

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Harika says marriage hasn't changed her relationship with chess.

"After marriage, chess-wise my life has been the same. In fact, my husband and in-laws want me to play more chess. I am allowed to do what I want in chess. In fact, I started playing chess within one week after my marriage. They never expected from me anything other than me playing at my best. Earlier, only my family wanted me to do well, now two families want me to do that. This is helping me to concentrate more on the game as I have the liberty to play across the world in all important events," signed off Harika.