Meet Malvika Bansod, the next big thing in Indian badminton

Malvika Bansod is a young Indian badminton player who broke into the women’s singles world top 100 earlier this year.

4 min By Aarish Ansari
Malvika Bansod
(Picture by Badminton Association of India)

India has given the badminton world plenty of superstars in the last decade and continue to do so.

While the perennial stars like PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth continue to shine, the younger generation has also begun to make waves on the global stage. And from this new crop of badminton players, Malvika Bansod is definitely the one to watch out for.

In her early 20s, Malvika Bansod made headlines after winning the silver medal at the Syed Modi International 2022 tournament in January. That, too, in her debut season on the BWF World Tour.

Malvika Bansod up against Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu

On her way to the Syed Modi International final, Malvika beat other upcoming badminton players like Aakarshi Kashyap. But in the summit tie, she went down 21-13, 21-16 in 35 minutes. Nevertheless, it left PV Sindhu impressed.

“It was good she (Bansod) is an upcoming player and she is doing really well. She had some good matches in the quarter-finals and semi-finals. She played well and there were some good rallies," Sindhu said.

Before the podium-finish at Syed Modi, Malvika Bansod defeated Saina Nehwal, her inspiration, at the India Open Super 500.

Malvika Bansod took only 34 minutes to prevail over the 2012 Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal 21-17, 21-9 in pre-quarterfinals. The youngster considers it one of the biggest wins of her fledgling career.

“Saina has been my idol because she has been the flag-bearer of women’s badminton in India for more than a decade,” Malvika Bansod said after the win.

“That’s the reason why I took up badminton. When I started out, I used to get overawed by her game, style of play and power,” she added.

The youngster continued her impressive run at the Odisha Open and won the bronze medal.

With two podium finishes in three tournaments this year, Malvika Bansod’s career is on the surge and it has hardly come as a surprise.

The Nagpur-born shuttler has been grabbing eyeballs in the junior circuit for the better part of the last decade.

Born on September 15, 2001, Malvika Bansod picked up the racket at the age of eight. She has dominated the junior tournaments, winning several medals at the age-group and state-level events.

Following consistent performances and a string of podium finishes, including two golds at the South Asian U21 Regional Badminton Championship in 2018, Malvika Bansod rose to the top of the junior rankings in India.

Although the teenager was juggling between studies and badminton, she had set her mind on the sport. She is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science from the prestigious SRM University in Chennai.

“Right now, badminton is the priority. I am putting in great effort and I am doing well,” Malvika Bansod had told PTI.

With that belief, Malvika was not only competing against much more experienced players but also beating them and setting records.

The left-hander won the all-India senior ranking tournament on her debut in 2018 and, at 15 years of age, became the youngest-ever to win the event.

After training under Kiran Makode, Chetak Khedikar and Ajit Dayal, Malvika Bansod came under the tutelage of chief junior national badminton coach Sanjay Mishra

Since then, Malvika has won two more all-India senior ranking tournaments - in Kozhikode (2019) and Hyderabad (2021) - and clinched the junior title as well in 2019.

Malvika Bansod’s rise up the rankings

After years of dominating national competitions, Malvika Bansod seamlessly transitioned into the international senior circuit.

In 2019, Malvika Bansod won her debut senior tournament - Maldives International – and followed it with another top finish at Annapurna Nepal International Series.

But the youngster knew she needed improvement if she was to challenge the big guns.

“Overall game development is required. Now I am 18 but to compete against older players I will need more power and strength. My target is to break into the top 100 as early as possible,” Malvika told PTI in 2019 when she was ranked 458th in the world.

In the next two years, the youngster steadily climbed the ladder with wins at the Uganda International and Lithuanian International. Malvika was picked in India’s squad for the Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup in 2021.

Malvika Bansod is now comfortably sitting in the top 100 of the women’s singles world badminton rankings, gaining 50 places in January 2022 alone.

And going by her recent performances, Malvika Bansod has proven she possesses all the tools to scale greater heights in the coming years.

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