Talented, driven and outspoken: A true star

Squash players are some of the fittest athletes in the world, says Joshna Chinappa in this exclusive chat.

Joshna Chinappa.   -  M. VEDHAN

Joshna Chinappa.   -  M. VEDHAN

One of the most recognisable and durable athletes of Indian squash, Joshna Chinappa, won her 10th WSA women’s title by bagging the Victorian Open in Melbourne recently. In this interview, the 28-year-old says why squash deserves to be in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, among other things.

Excerpts:

Question: You didn’t win a WISPA title since April 2014, before winning the Victorian Open. Did that bother you at any point in time? And generally, how do you handle pressure?

Answer: Of course, I want to win more titles. Though it didn’t bother me, I was training hard and looking to win the tournaments I was playing in. There is always the pressure with the kind of expectations people have from me. But I just keep focussing on my training and putting in the hard work. I am really fortunate to be doing what I am at the moment.

Since winning the British Open under-19 title — the first Indian to do so — as a 17-year-old, you have faced several ups and downs. Which was the most challenging phase of your career, and why?

The most challenging would definitely be my injury. I went from having it all to nothing at all (professionally). It was a wake-up call for me. Luckily, I made some good choices, and here I am!

How confident are you that squash would figure in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

I am quite confident that the International Olympic Committee would see that squash deserves to be in the Olympics.

And, why do you think it deserves a place in the Olympics?

Squash represents everything from a sport’s point of view. It is physically and mentally demanding, fast-paced and played all over the world. Squash players are some of the fittest athletes in the world.

Apart from you and Dipika Pallikal, there is no competition in the Nationals. Is that a cause for concern?

I would like to see more Indian girls playing at a higher level on the tour. We have a few juniors, but it remains to be seen if they would go pro or not.

Any youngster you can pick as one for the future?

There are some good boys in the juniors who have the potential.

Do you believe in equal prize money for men and women in the Senior Nationals?

Equal prize money is a great idea and a lot of tournaments on the tour are going that way. Unfortunately, the Nationals don’t have it. But I have never played the Nationals for prize money and that will never change.

Do you think controversies are good for sport, squash in particular?

Any publicity can sometimes be good for sport! As long as it is not corruption or cheating!

You are seen as a diplomatic and non-controversial person. Does it prevent you from speaking about issues that need to be spoken about in the best interest of the sport?

I have always spoken my mind on various issues and I have had my fair share of controversies! But honestly I’d rather focus on my training and playing!

You continue to train abroad?

I train with David Palmer in Florida on/off during the year and in Chennai when I am back home.

You have 14 National titles. Now you are two short of Bhuvneshwari Kumari’s 16 titles. Is that a target?

Since I was 10, I wanted to win 16 National titles!

Do you think India can become a superpower in squash? What needs to be done for that?

India can definitely be a superpower in the game. We need more infrastructure throughout the country and funding, funding and funding!

Of the 10 International titles, which one is etched in your memory and why?

It would be the Chennai Open in 2012 right after coming back to play (from a debilitating knee injury).

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Star Fitness Mantra’ – 10 fitness tips.

1. Eat your meals on time (sugar cravings reduce drastically!) & drink lots of water.

2. Weight training is the secret to a great body!

3. Sleep well.

4. Warm up before and stretch after workouts.

5. Core training.

6. If you can talk while working out, you’re not working hard enough!

7. Burn more than you eat!

8. Make sure your form is right or you can get inured! Ask the trainer!

9. Dress well (more colour) to work out! (can make you feel awesome on days you might not feel it!).

10. Swimming or an ice bath is great for that sore body!

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Star Drive

I like a nice sports car!

Best ways to enjoy a drive

With good music obviously!. I prefer being on my own while driving, but I don’t mind good company once in a while! Also not having my phone around makes me enjoy a drive much more!

Star Childhood

One of my favourite memories as a child was when I went on a holiday to Singapore with my family. One of the naughtiest things I have done was getting a tattoo at 15, without telling my mom!

Star Unwind

I love watching all my favourite TV shows after a hard day or any day!

Star Favourites

Movies: I watch a lot of English, Tamil and Malayalam movies.

Actors: I like Vin Diesel and in India I like Kalki.

Restaurant: I don’t have a favourite restaurant but I love South Indian food!.

Holiday spot: Los Angeles is my favourite holiday spot!

Star Gizmos

I am obsessed with candy crush! I play it every time I am not at training! I just got the Go Pro and I am loving it!