Due to the lack of adequate coaching facilities in Nashik, Maharashtra player Shikha Gautam shifted to Karnataka to train under Prakash Padukone at his Bangalore facility in 2011.
Shikha Gautam at Bombay Gymkhana yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate.
The moved has benefited the 16-year-old who is currently the top player in the girl’s singles U-17 category and represents Karnataka. Yesterday, Shikha, who is seeded second in the tournament, registered a 21-14, 21-18 win over Aditi Anand of Tamil Nadu to enter the quarterfinals of the 3rd Gautam Thakkar Memorial All India Junior Badminton Tournament at Bombay Gymkhana.
The Nashik-born shuttler started playing under Amit Deshpande as a nine-year-old. It was during the U-13 nationals in Hyderabad in 2010 that one of the coaches at the Padukone Academy approached her to train at their facility.
“When I was approached by the academy coach to train at Bangalore, I went there for two weeks. There was a drastic change in my game. The personal training and advice I get from Prakash sir is invaluable. It got hectic to travel to and fro from Nashik. That’s when Prakash sir asked me to shift to Bangalore.
“I owe my success to him. Training in Bangalore has given me the exposure that I would never have got in Nashik,” said Shikha who idloises World No 1 Lee Chong Wei.
Earlier this year, she stood second at the Aros Junior Cup in the singles girls U-17 event. Also, in the All-India ranking tournament in Kochi last month, she was the runners-up in the U-17 category and also won the double event.