Paddler Syndrela Das is yet to step into her teens. But the youngster has shown sparks that indicate she will go a long way.
Syndrela bagged two medals — a silver in the under-13 singles and a bronze in the under-15 category — in the WTT Youth Contender meet in Havirov, Czech Republic, early this month. This, mind it, was only her second international meet.
Syndrela speaks words of wisdom belying her years.
“Winning the two medals in Czech Republic gave a boost to my sense of confidence,” the soon-to-be 13 told The Telegraph, “But when I play, I follow what Soumyadeep (Roy) Sir told me, and that it to enjoy the game and give my best. The medals will come on their own.”
A student of Dhanuka Dhunseri Soumyadeep Poulomi Table Tennis Academy, the youngster has been showing signs of promise from the time she came to the academy at eight years of age.
Initially her parents had enrolled her at a local club to play the game, along with other extra-curricular activities like art and music. The idea was to keep the child occupied.
But she took to the game like a fish to water and after she emerged champion at a local tournament where she was representing her club, her parents realised she was cut out for bigger things.
And thence started her training in earnest.
“From the beginning her ability to grasp concepts and adopt new techniques and tactics very quickly impressed me,” said national coach Soumyadeep, who feels she is made of the stuff of a champion.
Last year, Syndrela had broken her right wrist in an accident. She had cried inconsolably when in hospital, not because of the pain, but because she would be unable to take part in the upcoming tournaments.
Thereafter, she would go to the academy, first to watch the others play and then she started to practice with her left hand. This dedication from one so young, feels Soumyadeep, proves she will go a long way.
At the zonal championship in Mohali in 2021 — her first competition after her wrist fracture — Syndrela once again proved her grit.
The day before the championship, she suffered from a bad bout of food poisoning. Overcoming stomach cramps and weakness, not only did she participate in the meet, she played an unbelievable 25 matches in a single day to emerge champion in the under-13 girls singles category at the all-India ranking tournament.
Impressed with her performance at the Czech sojourn, CK Dhanuka of the Dhanuka Dhunseri group not only felicitated her on her return, but has also promised to sponsor her so she can train abroad and get the best of facilities to fetch the country more medals.
The Class VIII student of GD Birla Centre of Education balances her studies and game well.
“My school has been very cooperative. I often miss classes which has never landed me in trouble. My teachers only insist that I must catch up with the studies,” said Syndrela.
Which she does, happily.