A new name was added to the list of India’s top badminton players when Tasneem Mir, 16, recently made history by securing the top rank in the Under-19 BWF Girls’ Singles. In other words, she became the number one badminton player in the world at the junior level.
No Indian player has achieved this position before, including the likes of current badminton superstars PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, though when Sindhu was playing at the U-19 level, she did reach the second spot.
Tasneem, who is from Mehsana in Gujarat, scored 10,810 in the women’s singles junior world rankings. The youngster has been playing badminton since she was seven, thanks to her father Irfan Mir, who works in Gujarat Police and has also been a badminton coach and former player.
“When I was seven, I used to go to the stadium with my father to watch badminton,” Tasneem says. “Initially, I started playing badminton for fun, later I started practising with my father because I was good at the game. He was my first badminton partner and I had my first badminton match with him.”
On the top world ranking, Tasneem says she was shocked to hear the news because she never thought of becoming the No. 1 player in the world. She adds that the last time her ranking was two, which is what she was hoping for this time. But owing to an increase in tournament points, she managed to bag the top spot.
Understandably, her family is very happy with Tasneem’s success, and her father in particular is elated. “In fact, there is no one in Gujarat who has received this honour, so my parents are not only happy but also proud of me. Because of my hard work I have become the number one junior player in the world. It is difficult to compete in international tournaments and I worked hard for it,” she says.
The entire Gujarat Police Department is also happy with Tasneem’s hard work, with Gujarat Police DGP Ashish Bhatia even tweeting to congratulate her. “Congratulations to Tasneem Mir, daughter of ASI Irfan Mir of Mehsana Police, for winning the first position in Junior World Rankings in Badminton. Many more milestones are to come,” he wrote in his tweet. Besides, Gujarat Cricket Association vice-president Dhanraj Nathwani and Minister of State for Railways and Textiles Darshan Jardosh have also lauded Tasneem.
Tasneem’s journey has never been easy. There was even a time when she had to quit the game owing to financial constraints. But sponsorship enabled her to continue playing. Tasneem is currently training with Starlet Indonesia coach Edwin Yerevan at the Assam Badminton Academy.
The young champion has previously won three titles in Bulgaria, France and Belgium. At the age of 14, she won the Under-19 National Junior Championship. She also won the U-13, U-15 and U-19 girls singles. In 2018, she won the Under-15 singles and doubles titles at the All India Sub-Junior Ranking Tournaments in Hyderabad and Nagpur.
Tasneem is now working on improving her senior ranking, and she has already represented India as a senior last year. She hopes to make it into the top 200 by the end of the year.