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‘Want to play in Olympics,’ says Jalandhar girl on winning gold medal in state badminton championship

Saanvi Ralhan, a student of Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg, and her father Arsh Ralhan are together living the dream of making it big in sports

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Jalandhar’s young sportsperson, Saanvi Ralhan has made everyone proud again. After winning several district-level medals, the badminton player has won a gold medal in the recently held sub-junior state badminton championship 2022, in the girls’ double under-13 category.

This is Saanvi’s first gold medal at a state-level championship. The student of Class VI at Apeejay School, Mahavir Marg said, “I am very happy. My next target is to win the national championship. In future, I want to represent my country in the Olympics and win a gold medal.”

Saanvi has been playing badminton for two-and-a-half years now. Her elder sister Manya Ralhan is also a national-level badminton player who has clinched many medals as well. The young girls were inspired by their cousin, also a national-level badminton player.

“My daughters followed in their cousin’s footsteps to play badminton. Manya started playing first and Saanvi followed. Initially, I enrolled them in the training academy just for the sake of fitness. But as their interest developed, they started participating in tournaments and I feel proud of their achievements,” Saanvi and Manya’s father Arsh Ralhan shares.

An alumnus of Apeejay Mahavir Marg himself, Arsh recalls how the “wonderful experience” at his alma mater made him choose to enroll his daughters in the same school. Be it class assignments or taking leaves, Apeejay has supported its students every step of the way, Arsh states. “The principal and teachers at Apeejay have been extremely helpful. My daughters’ classmates have also helped them out with their studies. Thanks to them, my daughters are able to manage both academics and sports.”

Saanvi follows a strict routine. She wakes up at 4 am in the morning to go for her first practice session of the day before going to school. “We usually have a three-part practice session every day. Since I am in school, I do only two of them — a fitness class early in the morning and then badminton practice in the evening. The fitness class includes skipping, running, and some weight training,” she explains. As for her diet, she adds, “I strictly avoid junk food — I have it may be once a month. And I eat eggs every day before going to school.”

Even at such a young age, she has learnt to take defeat in stride and never equate it with failure. “Losing a game doesn’t dishearten me. It strengthens my resolve to win against my opponent the next time I face her. So, I practise even more,” the champion stresses.

As Saanvi and Manya put in the dedication and hard work, their father stands by them as a constant source of support and encouragement. A businessman who runs a publishing house with his family, Arsh regularly travels with his daughters wherever they have to go to play. “Being in a family business, my father and brother handle the operations when I am away, which helps me devote my time to my daughters whenever required.” Adds his daughter, “My mother, who is a housewife, is always there to encourage us. She accompanies me to tournaments when my father travels with my sister. The latter also keeps giving me tips on how to play better.”

In the wake of Indian women making it big in sports, Arsh wishes for something similar for her daughters. “It is my dream to see my daughters play at an international level. In future, if I have to choose between academics and sports, I will ideally give preference to the latter,” the proud father signs off.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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