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Would like to play more for India and get back on tour: Joshna Chinappa

May 15, 2024 19:56 IST

IMAGE: Back from injury, Joshna Chinappa is eager to play more for India. Photograph: ANI

Making a comeback from surgery at 37 years of age in a physically demanding sport like squash is tough to say the least but recent Padma Shri awardee Joshna Chinappa is determined to get back on the PSA Tour at the earliest.

The former world no. 10 underwent a knee surgery following the Asian Games last year and after months of rehab, is nearing full fitness.


She made her comeback in the National Doubles Squash Championship held in Chennai this week, when she emerged triumphant in the mixed doubles category with  Abhay Singh.

"I still feel like I had a good couple of years, followed by a bunch of injuries and surgery a few months back on my knee. It's been challenging as to whether to come back to play or move on," she told PTI in an exclusive interaction arranged by HCL.

"But, I had a great opportunity to train and get my legs strong, and once fit, I was to take a call on how much to play. The Doubles (Nationals) was something I was looking to play and be physically fit, and now winning it makes it feel even more special.

"But I would like to play more for India and get back on the tour. I am still not 100%, but I will decide with my team and coaches about fully getting back."

Joshna credited her support staff for making the comeback possible.

"It's hard (to come back), especially at 37. I know how much work it takes to prepare right now," she continued.

"But, the beauty of training at an older age is that you understand your body better. You can get a lot more out of it if you do things correctly. The diet, nutrition and training -- I had to pay extra attention to it."

"It was a wonderful learning process, working with the best (support) team, along with my physio Yash Pandey, and they really helped me get back on track. It's very important who you surround yourself with during the challenging times. Fortunately, I was blessed to have them."

Dipika Pallikal doesn't play on the PSA tour anymore and Saurav Ghosal recently retired from professional squash. Also part of the golden generation of Indian squash, Joshna knows she can't go on forever but still has a few years of fight left in her at the highest level.

However, she feels it's time for the youngsters to take over.

"As much as it's nice that I can still play in the PSA, I think it's time for the younger lot to come in and take over. Also, with squash now being in the Olympics (LA 2028), there is a lot more encouragement for them, along with awareness," she reckoned.

"Furthermore, with additional money coming in, squash will be promoted more in India and that will encourage more young girls to play on the pro circuit. That's the only way to bring medals for the country.”

When asked if she is eyeing the Los Angeles Summer Games, she asserted that her focus is currently on getting fit.

"I don't know. At this point, I just want to be fit, healthy and injury-free, and I'm taking it on a yearly basis. If I can manage that, anything is possible," she stated.

Last week, Joshna was awarded the Padma Shri, the nation's fourth-highest civilian honour. She it was an inspirational moment.

"It's amazing. Being in that room in the Rashtrapati Bhavan with the most amazing people who have truly achieved and contributed to our nation; it was so inspirational for me to be amongst them.

"I spoke to a lot of awardees, and I was very excited. It was such a wonderful occasion, and I felt so proud to be an Indian," she signed off.

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