There has been a marked change in squash player Mahesh Mangaonkar's life after winning the Asiad team gold in Incheon, South Korea recently.

Mahesh Mangaonkar
Mahesh Mangaonkar(right) at Juhu Vile Parle Gym yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave.

The city lad was a part of the Indian team along with Saurav Ghosal, Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu and Kush Kumar that beat Malaysia 2-0 to bag their maiden gold. Talking about the attention he has been getting after this win, Mangaonkar said, “People have started recognising me wherever I go.”

Yesterday, the 20-year-old beat Valentino Bon Jovi of Malaysia 3-1 (11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5) to enter the semi-final of the Mumbai leg of the JSW Indian Squash Challenger at the Juhu Vile Parle Gymkhana.

Mangaonkar will be traveling to Delhi for a felicitation function and is looking forward to it. “I have no clue about the rewards that we will get on October 14. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to meeting the Prime Minister. The Sports Authority of India will be felicitating us in New Delhi where Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is supposed to award cash prizes to all Asian Games medal winners. However, for me it’s not about money. It’s the feeling of pride that matters most.”

Mangaonkar feels the Asiad win has been his most memorable triumph so far, and is now keen to do well in the individual competition as well. “By far, this has been my best ever victory. The medal that we won was in a team event. There is still lot more to achieve. My aim is to win individual honours for the country in the next Commonwealth and Asian Games.”

Also on Mangaonkar’s agenda is breaking into the top-24 in world rankings. “I have been training hard under Australian great Shaun Moxham in Belgium for almost 10 months now. I was ranked 86 in the world last year when I decided to train under Shaun sir. My rankings have improved and have gone up by 30 positions within seven months.

“I have managed to win three Professional Squash Association (PSA) titles and have finished runners-up in two events. Now I aim to break into the top-24 by next year,” said Mangaonkar, who is currently ranked 56 in the world.