The wait is over

Playing and winning international circuit events is my next priority, and I am keen to do well at the Commonwealth Games as it is happening at home. - TRUPTI MURGUNDE-RITU RAJ KONWAR

A product of the Padukone Badminton Academy in Bangalore, Trupti Murgunde is regarded as the most skilful and tactically sound player among Indian women. By Kalyan Ashok.

“When it came to the Nationals, I always thought I was jinxed. Well the jinx has been broken finally now, and I am happy that a load is off my shoulders,” said Trupti Murgunde, the newly-crowned National women’s badminton champion. The 27-year-old from Pune, who has made Bangalore her home ever since she began training at the Padukone Badminton Academy a decade ago, is regarded as the most skilful and tactically sound player among Indian women, though her fitness often had been a bit suspect in the past.

She had made it to the final of the National Championship thrice in the past — in 2002, 2004 and 2008 — but fell at the final hurdle. After a back injury kept her out of action for most part of 2008, Trupti was truly back in 2009 with a good mix of fitness and training regime under the supervision of Prakash Padukone and Vimal Kumar. She stayed injury-free and there were some good results with the triumph in the Czech Open and victories at home in the Petroleum Board tournament, NPL all-India tournament and a strong showing at the Indian Grand Prix in Lucknow, where she beat a former top-10 Japanese player, Yu Hirayama. Trupti’s road to the National title indeed was lit up with some incandescent performances.

“I did not feel any kind of pressure and I have been playing well over the season, and I didn’t have to fret about any injury either. I went flat out during training and I didn’t have to worry about my game. All that I hoped was that I should not fall sick as it has been a long wait. Everything fell in place,” said an elated Trupti.

Trupti’s strength is her mental toughness, and also her ability to create winning openings. But often she struggles to finish. “Yes, a much stronger smash would be ideal but at the domestic level, I am not overly worried about my finishing, because most players try to retrieve and rally which suits me fine and I can outlast them,” she said.

Having won the National title, Trupti now wants to make a mark at the next level. “Playing and winning international circuit events is my next priority and I am keen to do well at the Commonwealth Games as it is happening at home,” said the champion.

In her hour of triumph, Trupti acknowledged the contributions made by her coaches, Padukone and Vimal. “I owe it to them,” she said.

Married to Karnataka State player Abhijith Naimpally, Trupti felt that being married doesn’t hinder her career in sports. “My husband himself has been a player and the family has been supportive,” she said.

Sport, in fact, runs in her veins. Her mother, Prabha Murgunde, was a kho-kho player who represented Maharashtra for nine years. “She was the one who pushed me into sport. I was in Pune then. I played a bit of hockey before taking up badminton. I had the good fortune of training under Vasanth Gore. So my basics were sound, which helps me even now. Later I shifted to WIE, which had wooden courts and then joined the Pune District Association’s coaching scheme, where I trained with Satpal Rawat and Ashwini. At 14, I made my trip to Bangalore. I just stayed on,” Trupti said.

Her career was almost nipped in the bud by her orthodox grandfather, Trupti recalled. She and her mother even sneaked off to Aurangabad for the State championships without telling him.

“When people, noticing my achievements, started asking him whether I was his grand-daughter, he changed his mind and gave me the green signal. That was the turning point,” said Trupti.

After retirement, Trupti wants to take up golf. But right now, she is celebrating.

“It took quite some time for me to realise that I had finally won the Nationals. Since then there has been non-stop celebration with friends and family and I am off to Pune where my mom and brother are waiting to join the party!” the champion signed off.