Sport is usually a habit that needs to be cultivated from a young age when the mind and body can easily pick up the technicalities that a particular sport requires. However, some late bloomers prove that it’s never too late to pick up a sport. Himani Punia is one such testament to the fact that age is just a number.
Himani Punia, a resident of Jaipur, India, is a highly decorated badminton player who won gold in the 40+ women’s singles and a silver in the 40+ women’s doubles category in the Yonex Sunrise 45th Indian Masters (veteran) National Badminton Championships. However, Punia did not start playing badminton until she was thirty, which is much later than most professional players begin.
But Punia is an example of how one can pick up a sport later in life with hard work, dedication, and passion. “I have always been into sports; I used to be an equestrian, and I love horse riding. I learned it as a child, but I never competed as such,” Punia begins.
She started playing badminton as a hobby with a few friends at a local club in Jaipur, and then she started improving steadily, and her interest in the game increased. Before long, she wanted to take it up professionally.
“I fell in love with the sport and worked very hard in learning the game. This sport is hard on your body as you age more and more…but I just love the sport so much that I am willing to take the pain,” Punia says.
Equipped with a master’s degree in hotel management from a university in Brig, Switzerland, Punia worked with the Oberoi group of hotels in Delhi for a bit before quitting corporate life to focus on badminton.
“I did not feel the push work in a corporate environment. I just wanted to play badminton, so I quit and concentrated on improving my game,” Punia explains.
She trained with kids and learned from their uninhibited interest in the game. “If they learn a drop shot one day, they’d like to practice it till they get it right,” she explains.
Her success is a result of hard work, dedication, and discipline. She trains twice a day, does shuttle drills in the morning, strength training and running in the evening, and rests in the afternoons.
Punia is part of the Indian contingent participating in the BWF World Senior Badminton Championships, 2023 in Jeonju, South Korea, slated to take place in September.
At 43, Punia is a prime example of how anyone can pursue a passion, regardless of age, with hard work and dedication.