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14-year-old badminton champ opines girls should take the lead in sports

Lavnya Puri, Under-15 player who dreams of playing at the Olympics discusses her inspiration, game, diet and schedule before matches

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Her first brush at Badminton happened in school, Apeejay Pitampura. In the school court, Lavnya once saw a senior girl defeating a group of boys. From then onwards, young Lavnya could not stop thinking until she could learn the game professionally. Currently a student of class 9, she is being trained by coaches Ashwini Kumar and Prashant at the Ludlow Castle Sports Complex in Delhi. 

In fact, recently, the young champion also secured the 1st position in GS Under-15 in the North District Badminton Championship organised by Delhi Capital Badminton Association. Edited excerpts from the interview:   

Were you always keen to learn Badminton?

I wanted to make a career in this sport. Seeing the senior girl play in school inspired me further. She was a strong player and used to practice dedicatedly each day. I liked her game very much. After that incident, I also watched a few matches on television and asked my parents if I could go for a professional training in the sport. My parents supported me in this decision and that’s how my journey began. It has been four years now.

Who is your role model in the game?

PV Sindhu. She has a balanced frame of mind during the game. Her movements in the court are stable. She doesn’t give up until she has scored her points.

Why do you think Badminton is now becoming a popular sport in a cricket-watching nation like India?

I think that since PV Sindhu’s entry at the game, people have become hooked onto it. She is the first and only Indian to become the Badminton World Champion. She is the only second individual athlete from India to win two consecutive medals at the Olympic Games. With her dedication and hard work, she was able to do so. Her journey has been extremely motivating!

Do you think we are witnessing more and more women sports players from India?  

Yes. Women are making strides across all kinds of sports. They are proving that women are as capable as men. They need more support and recognition by the nation like the male players.

How much daily practice is needed to excel in Badminton?

At present I am on a summer break from school. I am practicing in three sessions throughout the day. On regular days, I do two sessions. First in the morning and then, after school in the evening. Morning is for fitness training and I play Badminton in the evening. I put in at least 5-6 hours every day for the game.

What dietary precautions do you follow to stay fit?

I avoid sweets and spicy foods to stay active in the game. I do have some food cravings and so, once in 10-15 days I do indulge. On a daily basis, my diet included protein-rich home-cooked meals.

Lakshna Mahajan (Mother): We have consulted a dietician to chart out a diet plan that can help Lavnya. Fried food and parathas are a big no for her. However, on Sundays, I make her favourite rajma-rice. It has a high-protein count. Since players tend to have high-stress levels, I also make it a point to include salads and fruits in her diet. They are good antioxidants.

Who motivates you for the game?

My father. He has played Badminton during his school days. He suggests tips to improve my performance in the game. He is my strength. Despite his busy schedule, he never misses my matches.

Nitin Puri (Father): Badminton and Table Tennis are two games which I have played till the Zonal level. I am very passionate about sports because my father encouraged me to play. My father used to play many of them and he taught me that sports are essential for our growth. Lavnya is the first from our family to pursue Badminton professionally. My endeavour is to encourage her. And in doing so, I have inculcated a habit in her to watch the games regularly. She has attained a good sense at Badminton till now and her coaches are doing a great job in preparing her for matches.

How lucrative can a career in Badminton become?

Nitin Puri (Father): Right now, my focus is to encourage Lavnya. We will put our best efforts and see how she progresses. Only then I will be in a better position to strategise and plan for her future. As far as the training is concerned, we are investing and providing her the best facilities. We want to play at the Olympics, one day.

How has the school contributed to your growth?

At school, Principal Ma’am, Ms. Veena Goel, my teachers and sports coaches have supported me a lot. I have been able to manage my academics well due to them.

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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