Becoming the first Indian with world No.1 spot in junior badminton is just a start: Tasnim Mir

16-year-old shuttle rider Tasnim Mir, who hails from the town of Mehsana in Gujarat, has pulled off a feat that veteran badminton player like Saina Nehwal and Olympic gold medalist like PV Sindhu have failed to do! Mir is the first Indian woman to reach World No. 1 in the under-19 girls’ individual category according to the latest Badminton World Federation junior rankings.

Mir’s love of badminton dates back to when she was a little girl who would jog with her father to see him coach badminton players. “My father is a badminton coach and when I was seven I used to accompany him to the stadium just to watch badminton. I first started playing badminton for fun, but because I was good at it, I gradually started training with my father. I played professionally after competing and winning in state tournaments. My first badminton partner and my first badminton match was with my dad!” shares Mir.

To be declared world number 1 in the junior category is a great achievement. But I’m not overwhelmed by the performance. “Mummy ne bola tha kal for becoming world no. 1 but I wasn’t overwhelmed by the news. My goal is to win an Olympic gold medal for India and perform well at senior level. That’s why I didn’t take this message too big,” says Mir.

I was caught off guard when I heard the news of becoming a world champion and I didn’t expect it at all. “I didn’t expect to ever be declared world no. Kyunki Main Under-19 Aur Nahi Khelne Wali Thi, Mujhe Laga Tha, Main World #2 Par Atak Jaaongi. However, they reopened the leaderboard after the tournaments I played late last year and added points I earned from those tournaments and promoted me from world #2 to world #1. Since it was so last minute, it was not expected at all!” says Mir.

While Mir may not be celebrating her success, her family is very happy. “My dad is thrilled as he was my first coach. Also, there is no one from Mehsana, Gujarat who has achieved this honor, so my parents are overwhelmed and proud of me. Main Apne Hard Work Se World #1 Bani Hun, Kyunki Mujhe Bahut Mushkil Lagta Tha Yeh Sab. Competing in international tournaments is pretty tough and I fought for it,” says Mir.

My life was mostly consumed with badminton. So much so that she couldn’t do all the normal things a teenager does. “Bachpan toh bilkul nahi raha aur kuch bhi aisa fun karne ko mila hi nahi. Toh normal life kafi miss ho gayi. Even if I do now what I failed to do, it will not be the same because enjoying and experiencing things when you are a child is very different from what you experience as an adult. Kafi cheezien badminton ke liye choot gayi,” says Mir.

Coming from a family with a brother who was also a national champion, Mir’s bond with her sibling was unique. At the age of sibling fights, Mir was busy practicing badminton with her brother. “My brother is also national champion in badminton. I grew up playing badminton with my brother. We practice a lot together and I love the bond we have,” says Mir.

Mir has been in Guwahati for four years and trains under coach Edwin Iriawan from Indonesia (Photo: Facebook)

I confess that she misses making friends, going to parties and having gala time with her family. When asked what she would most like to do if she had the time, Mir quickly replies, “Ghoomna, Miss Karti Hun, the main thing. A stress free vacation is what I want. However, I always travel to my tournaments with the mindset of playing a match. I would like to visit Ladhak, Kashmir or the Himalayas with my family.”

Mir’s social media is full of her videos of her hard physical training. The shuttle admits that life in world #1 is not easy. “I have to follow a strict diet in addition to my training and I miss chocolate and sweets a lot! Whenever I win a big tournament, I celebrate with a Cheat Day!” says the 16-year-old.

I would like to thank her family and her school for their support along the way. “My mother and my school have been very supportive on my way. I went to mainstream school only up to the sixth grade. Post this, I just sat for my exams. My school allowed me to take the final exams and practice the rest of the time,” she says.

Mir has been in Guwahati for four years, training under coach Edwin Iriawan from Indonesia, who has coached Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, among others. What’s next on your agenda? “I have internationals in Iran and Uganda next month and I am preparing for them. My resolution for 2022 is to improve my rank while playing at senior level,” says Mir.

The hallmark of a true athlete is the strength with which they deal with failure, and Mir has some advice on that. “Apne career ko leke kabhi give up mat karna and hamesha hard work karna. Stay focused. I used to cry a lot when I lost a match in the starting XI. But now I’ve learned that winning and losing is part of life and a game. So if you’re not too emotional about winning or losing, you’re learning with every game you play,” she says.

With Bollywood actors like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Huma Qureshi, etc. congratulating Me on becoming world #1, I find it hard to believe that things are going so fast for her. “I couldn’t believe they congratulated me in a story when I first heard from people. I thought it was wrong but it was true and I felt really good about it. I’m really thankful for her appreciation,” shares Mir as she signs off to hit the pitch for her next training session!

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