CHENNAI: A hundred thousand. 100,000. That’s a big number, it separates the smaller ones from the big boys. That’s also the amount of times Joshna Chinappa has had to answer questions on one particular theme. “Squash at the Olympics.” It’s understandable because it’s difficult to wrap your head around the idea that the sport doesn’t figure, especially when you take into consideration that ‘sports’ such as equestrian – essentially horses that jump over obstacles – figure prominently.
But she doesn’t want to badmouth any sport that has been preferred over squash at the quadrennial bash. “I did watch the Olympics,” she says from China. “It would have been amazing to compete there. I have been asked that question about squash and the Olympics some 100,000 times.”
Yet, as the likes of Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu were helping India to medals in Rio, Joshna, in the company of Dipika Pallikal, Harinder Pal Sandhu and Saurav Ghosal, was helping the country towards its biggest ever medal haul at the World Doubles Championship in Australia. Three medals were won (silver and bronze in mixed doubles, with another bronze in women’s doubles) in four days, but the 29-year-old doesn’t want to make too much out of it. “It’s fun playing doubles and better when we win medals.”
She played with and against Dipika at the Worlds but says it’s pretty normal for such a scenario to present itself. “It’s natural for us that the top two players team up for the country and that’s how Dipika and I always look at it. Yes, we do compete with each other on the professional tour but we also enjoy playing for India and that’s always our priority.”
From a rankings point of view, her goal is to stay in the top-10, and given how her season has gone, it’s looking good. Twice losing finalist, a quarterfinal, a second round and two semifinal appearances (in doubles). “Decent” is the word she uses but many players would have killed to have such a start.