CHENNAI: Ace squash player Dipika Pallikal, who is still fresh from her Australian Open triumph, is keen to do well at the US Open, and get back into to the top 10 of the world rankings. But what is pleasing her most is that women athletes are getting the credit they deserve, and believes the Rio Olympics experience will propel more parents to allow children to take up sports.
“While it was always great to be a woman sports in India, the Rio experience has taught us that women can be as successful. A lot of people are taking notice of women sportspersons. We’ve had several No 1s in Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom and Sania Mirza. It’s the beginning of a lot of good things to come,” said Dipika.
The former national champion was the first Indian woman to break into the top 10 of the PSA rankings, and is keen to get there. “One of my goals is to get back into the top 10. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. I’ve to perform on a consistent basis, and also win big matches consistently,” she said during an Adidas event here on Tuesday.
“But having said that, I’m happy with how my game has been progressing. I’ve my own training schedule, and have always done my stuff in a quite manner. I’ve a very close support team, and have been following a particular regime for the last few years,” added the 25-year-old.
Egyptian Ashraf El Karargui has taken over as chief coach at the Indian Squash Academy here. But Dipika says that she still misses incumbent Major S Maniam, who shaped her career, but wants to move on. “I’ve not really spent much time with him (Karargui). In fact, I’ve met him only once, when I went to the academy last week. Fortunately, we have a camp in November, and I’ll probably spend a some time with him,” said the Chennai girl.
“Major Maniam shaped all of us. He’s played a small role in all our careers. We’re obviously sad to let him go. But we’re happy for change.”
Dipika couldn’t pick someone who could take over from Joshna (Chinappa) and her. “Unfortunately, it’s hard to pick a name right now. There are not many people who can be really good at the top. We’ve a few good junior players. Hopefully they can take the sport up, just like us,” she opined.
Marriage often signals the end of a sportswomen’s career, but Dipika wants to continue. “I’m very very keen to continue playing. Marriage is just a tag to a lot of things. I’m more motivated than when I was single, and am keen to win a few more medals for my country,” signed off the Padma Shri and Arjuna award winner, who is married to Tamil Nadu cricketer Dinesh Karthik.