WSA: Dipika looks to the future

September 2, 2012 - 8:34am
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From The Times of India

COIMBATORE: The last two years have been eventful ones for squash champion Dipika Pallikal, who has gradually but firmly getting into her groove by winning three high-profile tournaments, finishing runner-up at the Tournament of Champions and recently becoming the first Indian player to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open. But the icing on the cake was the conferring of the Arjuna Award by the Indian government, making her the first squash player to receive the prestigious award.

In an exclusive interview to Coimbatore Times, the Chennai girl gets talking on the award, the Olympics and her plans for the future…

What the award means?

It feels great to be recognized along with talented and inspiring athletes. The fact that I had won the Arjuna Award did not sink in until the ceremony was over. The award shows that I’m on the right way to my goals. But I see this only as just the beginning of my journey from a player ranked 15 to World No 1. Hopefully, recognitions like this will help me get there.

The awards night…

Just being one among the 25 athletes who have done the nation proud was a great feeling on that day and a reinforcement of my belief that I deserve to be on the same platform. We had rehearsals for the event and every athlete had only around 15 seconds to go to the dais, collect the award from the president and smile for a photograph. So, there was no chance of him talking to us. Still, it was an honour to be congratulated by the President of India.

And the credit goes to…

There are a few people who deserve credit for what I am today. My parents and family members, who sacrificed a lot; my coach Sarah (Fitz-Gerald) with whom I started training about two and a half years back, and the results are for all to see; we have clicked on a personal and professional level and she has proved she is the right one for me; my fitness trainer in Chennai, Basu Shankar, who has completely taken care of my fitness programme ever since I was 14-year-old; and, Rithwik (Bhattacharya), with whom I have recently started training in Mumbai, which has helped me a lot.

The Olympics impact…
Every athlete deserves recognition and people winning medals in the Olympic Games in different sports like boxing, shooting and badminton augurs well for our sporting future. Personally, it also reaffirms that squash, which is still considered
an elite sport in India, will also get recognized once I start succeeding the way I’ve been in the last few years.

No time for movies…

Yes, I was offered a few film roles a long time back but not in recent times. But, obviously, my prime focus is squash so I didn’t get much time to think about them.

What next?

I’m playing in Malaysia in a week, which is part of the World Series and that is my focus right now. It is one of the biggest tournaments in the World Series calendar, like a Grand Slam. Everything is going my way and the things that we are trying out are working, so we haven’t decided to change our strategy.