Field Watch

Know your legend: Ami Ghia, a path-breaking and unsung hero of Indian badminton

Ami Ghia along with her doubles partner Kanwal Thakar Singh, were the first women from India to win a CWG medal.

As the 21st Commonwealth Games came to an end over the weekend, the badminton stars garnered a lot of the attention. We are in the middle of, arguably, the golden age of Indian badminton and it showed in the results at the quadrennial event this year. Except one format - the mixed doubles - India won a medal in every category there is, including a historic team gold.

At the forefront of the team’s success were the superstars of Indian badminton, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, alongside a veteran in Ashwini Ponnappa. The three were crucial to India’s successes at the Games this year, with chief coach P Gopichand singling out Ponnappa for special praise.

Even as we celebrate the achievements of these women, where did it all begin?

One of the many achievements of the great Prakash Padukone was the gold medal in the 1978 commonwealth games. But at a time when he was considered the king of Indian badminton, there was another young, lanky lady making her way up the ladder with her drop shots and flicks from the net. Born in Surat and brought up in Bombay, Ami Ghia along with her doubles partner Kanwal Thakar Singh, were the first women from India to win a CWG medal - a bronze in Edmonton, 1978.

Not one quite used to the limelight and prone to staying away from the media, we met up with the former queen of badminton at her residence in Mumbai, in a bid to know more about what happened at the time when India was not yet a superpower in the world of the sport. Sharing some of those fond memories she yet treasures in the form of old newspaper cutouts, here’s what she had to say to us.

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