Ashwini Ponnappa hopes to shine in her third Olympics, India’s hopes for a medal rise

India’s star shuttler Ashwini Ponnappa, who is set to play her third consecutive Olympics after the London and Tokyo Olympics, has raised the country’s hopes of a medal this time. Two-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Ashwini Ponnappa was the first Indian female badminton player to win a medal in the doubles category of the World Badminton Championships with her doubles partner. The Indian pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta won the gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Ashwini Ponnappa was born on 18 September 1989 in Bangalore, Karnataka. Her current age is 32 years. She is a famous Indian badminton player who represents the country in the international badminton circuit in both women’s and mixed doubles disciplines. Her father’s name was MA Ponnappa and he used to play hockey for India. Her mother’s name is Kaveri Ponnappa. She has a sister named Appanna Ponnappa. Ashwini Ponnappa formed a successful pair with Jwala Gutta and they won many medals together at the international level. She completed her education from St. Francis Xavier Girls’ High School, Bangalore and higher education from St. Mary’s College, Hyderabad. Her father used to play hockey for India.

However, Ashwini preferred badminton over hockey and started training in badminton. And now she is also known as the doubles queen of Indian badminton. Ashwini Ponnappa’s badminton career has been quite bright as she won the Indian Junior Championship in 2001 at the age of only 12. She also won a gold medal in the South Asian Games in 2006. Pairing up with Jwala Gutta, who is also her partner in the London Olympics 2012, Ashwini Ponnappa won the gold medal in the women’s doubles event of the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2012 and the silver medal in the mixed team event of the same competition.

Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta teamed up to win a bronze medal at the BWF World Championships the following year, becoming the first Indian women’s pair to do so. However, they struggled to make a mark at the 2012 London Games. Playing in Group B, the pair faced Japanese duo Mizuki Fujii and Rika Kakiiwa and India were disappointed this time. Putting this defeat behind, the Ponnappa-Gutta pair continued their campaign by defeating Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen-hsing and Chin Yu-Chin Chin and Singapore’s Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Li. The Indian pair failed to make it to the quarter-finals.

A tie in the points halted the Indian rally and gave Mizuki Fujii and Rika Kakiiwa a golden opportunity to go ahead. Though she struggled to make a mark at the 2012 London Games, she had her best outing at the 2014 Uber Cup in New Delhi, where she helped the women’s team win a bronze medal. After partnering Pragya Gadre in 2013, she teamed up again with Jwala Gutta in 2014 and won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games that year. The Indian pair won gold at the Canada Open but had a tough time at the 2016 Rio Olympics, losing all three of their group stage matches. She was also in the medal race at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where she won gold in the mixed doubles event and bronze in the women’s doubles with N Sikki Reddy.

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