She does not hail from either of the gharanas of Indian badminton; neither Bengaluru (Prakash Padukone/Vimal Kumar) nor Hyderabad (Pullela Gopichand). Yet, 16-year-old Tasnim Mir became India’s first junior singles World Number 1 in badminton on Wednesday.
According to the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings, the next highest ranked Indian is another 16-year-old, Anupama Upadhyaya, who jumped 29 places to reach the 10th spot.
Tasnim Mir, who is from Mehsana, Gujarat, climbed three places in the rankings from fourth to first, on the back of winning three junior tournament titles in Bulgaria, France and Belgium towards end-2021.
Mir’s father Irfan Mir is a badminton coach and former player, while her brother Mohammad Ali Mir is a former state-level title winner.
“When I was seven years old, I used to accompany my father to the stadium just to watch badminton. Initially, I started playing for fun. I was good at it and I gradually started training with my father… He was my first badminton partner and my first badminton match was with him, as well,” she said in a recent interview.
Having initially trained at Greater Noida’s Pullela Gopichand Academy from 2017 onwards, Mir relocated to Guwahati’s Assam Badminton Academy in 2020 to train with her mixed doubles partner Ayan Rashid, and continues to train there.
Mir told the media that she had not expected this achievement due to the impact of Covid-19 on the international badminton calendar last year. However, in 2022, she is “already focussed” on taking the next step of moving from junior badminton to the big leagues.
“I am looking forward to playing in Iran and Uganda next month. My aim now is to improve my senior ranking. If I can weave some good performances and get into the top 200 by the end of the year, that would be great,” she said.
The teenager received recognition from public figures like Gujarat DGP Ashish Bhatia, Gujarat Cricket Association Vice President Dhanraj Nathwani, and Minister of State for Railways and Textiles Darshana Jardosh, for her rise in the rankings. Surprisingly, no praise has been forthcoming from the India badminton greats, former or current, on her achievement so far; social media is only abuzz with insignificant news like how a screen actor’s tweet rankled a woman badminton player cum BJP member.