Just as so many others, Aishwarya Rao took to tenpin bowling more as a leisure activity. But she was drawn to the lanes of the bowling alleys like a magnet and now she is not only hooked to the sport, but has also performed tremendously on her debut in the senior national tenpin bowling championships with her 'hook' style of bowling.
Aishwarya won the junior national championship in 2011. Naturally, she was hungry for more. This year she tested the waters in senior company. She came out with flying colours and went home with a bag full of medals too. In the individual championship, Aishwarya was the runner-up to Tamil Nadu's Sabeena Saleem who bagged her 7th title. Yet, Aishwarya gave her a fright and lost very narrowly with about 28 pins or so between them.
She started off with a bang in fact, winning the first event she played in senior company, the women's doubles which she won in the company of her teammate and former national champion Prathima Hegde. She teamed up with another former national champion from Karnataka, Vijay Punjabi to bag the mixed doubles gold. In the All Events category she managed to take the bronze.
"Yeah, I just wanted to perform well as were are so many good bowlers around. But I think I exceeded my own expectations by claiming so many medals. It has given me a fresh incentive to work harder and now my goal is to represent India in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea," said Aishwarya.
She took the sport as a co-curricular activity in Secondary school. "We had so many choices but somehow tenpin bowling appealed to me. There are so many former champions who coach students in Singapore and I was fortunate to have opted for tenpin bowling," she said.
"I have been training and competing in tenpin bowling competitions since 2008. In Singapore, in the National Age Group 2010 championship in the Under-18 girls section I bagged the 4th position and was a finalist in the Masters. Again this year, in the National schools tenpin bowling championship, I entered the Masters final and won the team bronze medal. I thought I should come down and compete in the Nationals here. After the way in which I played, I think I made the right decision," said a confident Aishwarya.
But why tenpin bowling? "The sport looks very simple but believe me, it isn't. You need a lot of physical and mental strength to pick up a 14-kg ball and roll it down. But you do that once, and you want to play more. It has a rather enduring effect and that's what happened to me," said Aishwarya, who has appeared for her Cambridge GCE A level examinations (12th standard) in Singapore. "I put in hours of physical training and also do some exercises to improve my mental strength. You need to concentrate a lot
to play well and get high scores. I hope to put in more work and improve my averages so that I can get into the Indian team by next year itself, " said Aishwarya, who was the recipient of the Singapore National Youth Achievement Award (Duke of Edinburgh Award) 2009 and 2010 and also the Singapore Sports Council Colours Award for Sports Excellence in 2012.
Apart from tenpin bowling, Aishwarya has trained in classical piano and is the Vice-president of School Photographic Society, Conservation Ambassador at the Jurong Bird Park Singapore and a Youth Leader at the Singapore Indian Development Association (Indian self-help group).
Aishwarya has indeed achieved so much at such a young age.
When tenpin bowling has caught the imagination of the youth and so many young boys and girls taking to it, Aishwarya has come as a bolt from the blue and promises to set the lanes on fire. Better watch out!