India's Malvika Bansod's confident of her abilities
Seventeen-year-old Malvika Bansod, India's rising star has already embarked on her "transition period" from being a junior to a senior to fulfill her badminton journey of dreams to rule the badminton world.
The only child of Prabodh Bansod and Trupti Bansod - both dentists - and hailed as in the same mold as world-beaters P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, has already won senior ranking tournaments back home in India.
The Shivaji Science College student who hails from Nagpur has already written history as India's first-ever Asian Schools champion when she won the title last year.
Her badminton idols are Chinese legend Lin Dan, a five-time world champion and two-time Olympics gold medallist, and Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying, the current women's world No 1 and reigning Asian Games champion. Another sporting figure who keeps her adrenalin flowing is tennis ace Roger Federer of Switzerland.
"They are my inspiration...they are champions who are so passionate about their sport. I have that in me," said Malvika who is in the Chinese city of Suzhou, competing in the Badminton Asia Junior Championships.
In the same breath, Malvika was quick to point out two other personalities in her life who are the "driving force" and who have made and are making lots of sacrifices in her badminton journey - her parents plus her grandparents.
"My parents even close their dental clinic to be with me to give moral support when I compete in tournaments. Getting support from parents is second to none. I am grateful to them."
After helping India reach the quarter-finals in the mixed team championships, Malvika is now focused on doing well in individual events which got underway on Wednesday. It was a winning start in her campaign in the women's singles.
She defeated Vietnam's Vu Thi Anh Thu 21-11, 19-21, 21-19 in 54 minutes. Malvika plays tournament favorite and top seed Phittayaporn Chaiwan of Thailand in the second round.
"I have not played Chaiwan before but I am ready to throw in my challenge. I like challenges and do not give in easily. Chaiwan does not fear me...win or lose my journey continues. Of course, I would like to be on the podium in my last Asian Junior Championships," added Malvika who wants to be an engineer.
"Sports and studies mix well for me. I have confidence in my ability to excel, both, in studies and badminton."
After making the grade in the Indian junior team and having played in the World Junior and Asian Junior Championships, Malvika wants to break into the senior team and play in bigger tournaments like the Asian Games, the Uber Cup, and the Olympics.
"Give her some time and she (Malvika) is set to be India's next badminton gem. She is also mentally strong," said coach Sanjay Mishra.
For now, Malvika has begun her "smooth transition" to move up to the senior ranks.
Meanwhile, Malvika stayed on course in Suzhou when she pulled off a stunning win over top seed Phittayaporn 21 - 18, 21 - 19 in a second round match.