Crowned U-13, U-15 and U-17 badminton (singles and doubles) champion of Karnataka state within ten years, Bangalore-based Trisha Hegde (17) has emerged Indian badminton’s hottest new prospect, set to follow in the footsteps of world women champions P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal.
In January (2019), this promising shuttler teamed up with Aditi Bhatt (Delhi) to bag the national U-19 women’s doubles junior champions title in Bangalore. Trisha is currently under the annual Air India sports champions contract scheme and Khelo India Games scholarship (Rs.25,000, Rs.10,000 per month respectively).
Despite a recent (April) loss to Pitchamon Opatniput, Thai junior champion, at an U-19 international tournament in Bangkok — the second time the teenager donned India colours — young Trisha is upbeat. “Playing against acclimatised Thai players in severely humid weather conditions has taught me some valuable lessons,” says Trisha, who returned last month from a three-week training camp at the Banthongyord Badminton School, Bangkok.
Born into a sports loving family — her mother Shan Hegde is a former district-level throwball and active badminton player while elder brother Tanush (21) is a former national-level shuttler and black belt in karate — Trisha, a class XII arts student of the city’s Jain College, attributes her success to quality coaching and family support. “My parents are my pillars of support. I specially owe a lot to my mother who travels with me for most tournaments and is my greatest critic. Moreover, my coaches — Murali, Prakash and Vimal Sir — motivated me to persist with the sport,” she says.
Introduced to the game at age six (2007) when she was enrolled in a beginners camp at the city’s Indiranagar Club conducted by veteran coach M. Murali, Trisha soon began winning club tournaments and quickly graduated to district and state-level tournaments. In 2013, she was spotted in a talent hunt and was invited to join the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) promoted by the eponymous former India and All England champion. Since then, she has been training at the PPBA which recently moved from the heart of the city to the mint-new Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, a first-of-its-kind multisport facility sprawled across 15 acres in Yelahanka in suburban Bangalore.
This young shuttler’s aspiration is to play for India. “I am training to play intensively in national and international tournaments to raise my game to global standards. My dream is to participate and win gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics,” she says with quiet determination.
Power to your racquet!
Paromita Sengupta (Bangalore)