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Para Sports

'Chinese legend Lin Dan is my idol,' says world no.3 Nithya Sre Sivan

Nithya, who secured three medals at the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, has reflected on her immediate goals and sentiments about her idol, Lin Dan.

Nithya Sre Sumathy Para Badminton

Para shuttler Nithya Sre Sumathy 


Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 29 Dec 2023 12:47 PM GMT

New Delhi: In the realm of para-badminton, Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan shines bright, holding the prestigious third spot globally. Her journey into this domain was inspired by the brilliance of Lin Dan, the legendary shuttler from China.

"I have a big list of my favourite badminton players but my idol is the Chinese legend Lin Dan. In terms of Indian players I like the way Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy play, also doubles players like Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy," Nithya said to The Bridge in an exclusive interview on the first day of the inaugural Khelo India Para Games in New Delhi.

Nithya, who is also preparing for her 12th board exam, not only excels in academics but also makes a remarkable impact on the international para-badminton circuit.

Despite being young, Nithya boasts an impressive track record, having secured over 30 international medals, including three at the recent Asian Para Games.

"I started playing badminton in 2016, just having fun playing with able-bodied players. It was all about enjoying the game initially, not taking the sport seriously. However, after a few months, my perspectives changed. I began to love the game and decided to take it up as a serious profession. I enjoyed it a lot and became curious to learn every shot of badminton. This curiosity led me to participate in district and state-level tournaments," said the girl from Tamil Nadu while reflecting on her journey of playing badminton.

As her passion deepened, badminton transformed from a pastime sport to a serious profession for Nithya.

"In 2019, I discovered para-badminton as a sport, prompting me to shift my focus. I participated in a few state-level tournaments dedicated to this sport, moving away from able-bodied competitions," said Nithya.

"Soon after, I seized an opportunity to train under the guidance of the national team coach, Gaurav Khanna sir in Lucknow. His support played a crucial role throughout my journey.

"The turning point of my career arrived in 2021 when I competed in my first international tournament. The outcome was rewarding as I secured two medals – a gold in women's singles SH6 and a bronze in the mixed doubles category," she added.

'My goal is to surpass my previous best'

Looking ahead with eagerness, Nithya now sets her sights on the World Championships and the Paris Paralympics in 2024.

"Having participated in last year, I'm now gearing up for my second World Championships in 2024. My goal is to surpass my previous best. Additionally, I'm thrilled about making my debut at the Paralympics in Paris. I'm eagerly looking forward to delivering a strong performance and bringing home a medal for my country," remarked Nithya.

At the Tokyo Paralympics, the women's SH6 category wasn't included, but this time it will be a part of the Games' roaster in Paris.

Reflecting on the evolving landscape of para-sports, particularly in India, Nithya acknowledged the increasing competition in her category.

"The competition in my category is increasing each day, with countries worldwide supporting their para-athletes. Notably, in India, organisations like SAI provide equal support to para-athletes, and our government is actively backing us in our endeavours," she noted.

Talking about the Khelo India Para Games, Nithya said, "The inaugural Khelo India Games for para-athletes is something very special. It serves as an excellent platform for athletes who might not have had much international exposure, enabling them to showcase their talents and potentially pave the way for their participation in international tournaments."

"Many people are still unaware of para-sports, and this scheme will not only bring the sport to their attention but also inspire more athletes to participate, thereby increasing competition in India and spreading awareness in society." Nithya concluded.

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