Aparna Popat

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Aparna Popat
Personal information
Birth name Aparna Lalji Popat
Country  India
Born (1978-01-18) 18 January 1978 (age 36)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Height 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in)
Years active 1989-2006
Handedness Right
Women's singles
Highest ranking 16[1]
BWF profile

Aparna Popat (Gujarati: અપર્ણા પોપટ; born January 18, 1978) is a former Indian badminton player. She was India's national champion for a record equalling nine times when she won all the senior national championships between 1997 and 2006.[2]

Early life[edit]

Aparna Popat was born on 18 January 1978 in Mumbai, Maharashtra into a Gujarati family of Lalji Popat and Heena Popat. She studied at the J. B. Petit High School in Mumbai and her Pre-university course from Mount Carmel College, in Bangalore. Aparna also holds a Bachelors degree in Commerce from the Mumbai University.

Training background[edit]

Aparna started playing badminton in 1986 in Mumbai. As an 8-year old when she approached Anil Pradhan for coaching, he saw a spark in the girl and told her parents "Give me this girl and I will put her on the map of Indian Badminton". Being a National champion himself, he helped her develop skills required to face the many challenges of the game.[3]

In 1994, she shifted to the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bangalore to further expand her capabilities. Training under the legendary Prakash Padukone, former All-England champion, she built up her fitness and learned techniques to be more competitive at the international level.

Yearning to expand her learning, in 2002 she shifted to the Sports Authority of India training centre at Kengeri, Bangalore where she learnt the nuances of the game under coach Gangula Prasad.[4]

Career highlights[edit]

She captured her first Senior National title at Hyderabad in 1997. Aparna went on to win the Senior National title from 1997 - 2005 thereby becoming the only Indian player to have equaled the record of Prakash Padukone winning nine consecutive national singles titles.

She remained undefeated in the Senior Nationals and won her penultimate title (for the 9th year on the trot) defeating Saina Nehwal at the Senior Nationals held at Bangalore in January 2006. She remains the only badminton player to have won 16 National Singles titles in 17 years that she played professionally.

The highlights of her achievements at the international level are participation in 2 Olympic Games, 1 Asian Games, a Silver Medal at the World Junior Championships in 1996 and 4 medals in 3 Commonwealth Games appearances.

She reached career high world ranking of 16.

Retirement[edit]

After 17 years of professional badminton, she retired from the game in 2006 after suffering a wrist injury that remained un-diagnosed. She remained undefeated at the National championships and retired as the No.1 player in India.

At present she is employed with Indian Oil Corporation in Mumbai.

Coaching[edit]

Aparna Popat took up the coaching role for the Mumbai Masters in the first edition of the Indian Badminton League.[5]

Awards & Achievements[edit]

She was conferred the Arjuna Award in 2005, one of the highest sporting honors in India awarded by the Government of India.

She was one of the 17 participants to be selected from around the world and the lone Indian to be selected for the Global Sports Mentoring Programme, an initiative by the promoted by Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State and espnW. This prestigious programme was aimed at empowering women and girls through sport.

Chronological Order of Achievements [edit]

1989

Won the national title (under-12) title at Bangalore. This was the 1st tournament she played at the national level.

1990

Finished runner up in the Nationals in the Sub-Junior girls category (under-15). This was the only year that she did not win the national title in her age group.

1991

Won the National Sub-Junior girls title (under-15).

1992

Retained the National Sub Junior Girls title (under-15) and was finalist in the Junior girls (under-18) category.

Also, got a chance to represent India at the World Junior Championships held at Jakarta. This was her maiden international tournament.

1993

Won the Junior National title (under-18) at Pune.

1994

Retained the Junior National title (under-18)

Represented India at the World Junior Championships held at Kuala Lumpur.

This year she also made her foray into the senior category at the international level being part of the Indian squad for the Uber Cup at Prague.

1995

Retained the Junior National title (under-18). Finalist at the Senior Nationals.

1996

Won bronze medal at Prince Asian Junior Championships at Hong Kong.

Later that year, she won a Silver medal at the World Junior Championships at Silkeborg, Denmark. This was India's first ever medal at this event.

She also retained the Junior National title (under-19) and was finalist at the Senior Nationals held at Pune.

Represented India in the Uber Cup.

1997

After finishing runners-up in the previous two years, she won her maiden Senior National title at Hyderabad defeating Manjusha Kanwar in straight games.

1998

This was one of her most fruitful years as a player. Apart retaining the Senior National title, she won an individual silver medal and team bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games held at Kuala Lumpur.

Also, she won the French Open title this year and participated in the Asian Games at Bangkok and the Uber Cup.

She also won a gold medal at the Asian Satellite Tournament.

1999

Riding on the good form of the previous year, she reached the semi-finals of the Swedish Open and finished runner-up at the French Open.

Retained her Senior National title in the Women's singles and finished runner-up in the Women's Doubles category.

Won a gold medal at the Asian Satellite Tournament.

2000

She represented the country at the Sydney Olympic Games 2000 as India's sole woman's badminton representative.

Represented India in the Uber Cup

Retained the Senior National title.

2001

Retained the Senior National title

Won a gold medal at the Asian Satellite Tournament.

2002

She was the lone Indian medalist at the Commonwealth Games held at Manchester, UK winning a bronze medal in the Women's singles.

Retained the Senior National title.

Represented India in the Uber Cup.

2003

Retained the Senior national title.

Won a gold medal at the Asian Satellite Tournament.

2004

Participated in her second Olympic Games held at Athens, Greece. She reached the pre-quarter final losing to the eventual silver medalist, Mia Audina in 3 games. At this point in time she was the only Indian woman badminton player to have represented India in 2 Olympics.

Retained the Senior National title.

Represented India in the Uber Cup.

2005

Retained the Senior National title. However, this year she developed a pain in her playing wrist.

2006

By this time,the injury was chronic. Yet managed to play the Senior Nationals and win her record 9th consecutive title.

Thereafter, represented India in the Uber Cup at Jaipur.

She played her 3rd Commonwealth Games at Melbourne, Australia which was the last international tournament she participated in. She reached the quarter-finals in the Women's singles and won a bronze medal in the team championships.

The wrist injury forced her to retire from the game. She retired at the top of the game being the No.1 player in the country.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Previous stars - Aparna Popat". Tata Padukone Academy. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mumbai Masters – Aparna Popat". Badminton India. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Aparna Popat's Profile". Studyrays. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Aparna Popat to train with Ganguly Prasad". The Times of India. 19 August 2001. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "IBL will benefit Indian players: Aparna Popat". ibnlive. 28 July 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.