New Delhi, Jan 12: Young shuttler Tasnim Mir on Wednesday (January 12) became the first Indian to grab the world no 1 ranking in the under-19 girls singles in the latest BWF junior rankings.
The 16-year-old from Gujarat was rewarded for last year's stellar run when she had secured titles in three junior international tournaments to jump three places to grab the top position in the junior world rankings.
"I can't say that I expected this. I thought I will not be able to become no 1 as tournaments were getting affected by COVID-19 but I won three events in Bulgaria, France and Belgium. So I am really excited and happy that finally, I could become world no 1. It is a great moment for me," Tasnim told PTI from Guwahati.
"I will completely focus on the senior circuit from now on and looking forward to playing at Iran and Uganda next month. My aim now is to improve my senior ranking. If I can weave some good performances and get into the top 200 by end of the year that would be great."
Tasnim, who is supported by OGQ, is currently ranked a lowly 602 in the women's singles. Tasnim's feat has never been achieved by any Indian girl, including two-time Olympic medallist P V Sindhu and London bronze winner Saina Nehwal.
While Sindhu was world no 2 in her under-19 days, Saina didn't make the cut for being a junior with the BWF junior rankings starting only in 2011. Another Indian Samiya Imad Farooqui of Telangana came close but could only reach the second spot in the BWF junior rankings.
In Boys singles, Lakshya Sen, Siril Verma and Aditya Joshi had become the world no 1. Tasnim was part of India's campaign at the Thomas and Uber Cup held late last year in Denmark and says it had a huge impact on her game.
"It was a huge moment for me, it was the first time that I was among the seniors, playing against world-class players in big stadiums, it was a great experience. I also met Viktor Axelsen there, I like his game. I also like to watch players such as Tai Tzu Ying and An Seyoung," she said.
Tasnim has been training under Indonesian coach Edwin Iriawan at the Assam Badminton Academy in Guwahati for the last four years.
"I have been training for last four years under Edwin, it has been great experience, we get to train with men players, so it has helped to improve my game," said the teenager, who won the 2019 Dubai Junior International.
Tasnim got her first lessons on badminton from her father Irfan Mir, who is a badminton coach and also ASI in Mehsana police. "My father is a badminton coach and also works for Mehsana police. He has always been interested in sports and used to take me along with him when I was about 7-8 years old," she said.
Tasnim, whose younger brother Mohd Ali Mir, a Gujarat state junior champion, also trains with her in Guwahati, has been an achiever right from her young days. She won the national junior champion (U-19) at the age of 14 and also claimed the national crown in the under-13, under-15 and under-19 girls' singles categories.
Tasnim also won U-15 singles and doubles titles at the All-India Sub-Junior ranking tournaments in Hyderabad and Nagpur in 2018. At the 2019 World Junior Championships in Russia, she could not go past the round of 32 but returned to win the title at the Asian U-17 & U-15 Junior Championships the same year in Indonesia.
She also emerged victorious at the President Cup Nepal Junior International Series 2020 in Kathmandu. "I will need to work on my stamina and mental aspect of my game, which will play a big role. I have confidence in my shots but it is important to focus on mind," she signed off.