For India’s Joshna Chinappa, representing her country has been a goal ever since she was 11 years old.
As a child, the Chennai native was motivated to pursue her squash career by a desire to compete for India.
“From the time I was really young, I decided that squash was going to be my career. I decided when I was 11 years old that I was going to be a professional,” Chinappa explains.
She adds: “I think my biggest dream was to play for India. That was always the goal and what encouraged and motivated me to take up squash seriously, was because I wanted to play for India.”
Now 36 and having represented India on countless occasions, including four times at the Commonwealth Games and five times at the Asian Games, the former World No.10 is pulling on the national jersey once again to compete in her hometown in the Squash World Cup.
“Chennai hosts the country’s largest squash academy, thanks to the support of the Tamil Nadu Government and SDAT” says Athlete Joshna Chinappa as the world converges in Chennai from June 13th to 17th for #SquashWorldCupChennai
Join us for the grand inauguration on June 12th, 5… pic.twitter.com/K9Bvc86LxC
— Sports Tamil Nadu (@SportsTN_) June 9, 2023
While there are many factors behind the record 19-time Indian national champion’s success, Chinappa feels that her upbringing in India’s squash capital has undoubtedly played a major role.
Speaking on the link between reaching the top of the sport and her Tamil Nadu roots, she explains: “I feel that it’s really special to be from Chennai. There’s a lot of sports and top sports people from our city. Of course, I was also very lucky that squash has its academy here, one of the biggest in the country and it was a huge advantage for me to have a place like the Indian Squash Academy to train at and get better at my game.
“Because the [Squash Rackets Federation of India] is based here, a lot of the top coaches are here, so a lot of top players from around the state and outside move to Chennai for squash and of course a lot of big tournaments happen in Chennai.
“It really encourages and pushes all of us to try and be our best so we can play in these tournaments.
“It’s wonderful for me as an athlete to be from Tamil Nadu. We get a lot of support from the state government, from SDAT [Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu] and it’s not just now, it’s been happening for years.
“Every time we win a medal, we’re appreciated, all our efforts are encouraged with our training and expenses and I think that really helps an athlete like myself who plays about 10-15 tournaments [per year] around the world, training abroad and of course the rewards that come with winning a medal. I think the Tamil Nadu government really encourages their athletes very well so just a huge thank you to them and SDAT for all the support they give to us.”
Chinappa and her teammates will be in action in the 2023 SDAT WSF Squash World Cup, which takes place 13-17 June at Express Avenue, Chennai.