Shuttler Tanya Hemanth speaks out on Iran tournament victory, headscarf row


Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta

Last Updated: February 06, 2023, 16:49 IST

Tanya said it was a very nice experience to see a stadium packed with women. File pic/Twitter

Tanya mentioned it was a really good expertise to see a stadium full of girls. File pic/Twitter

Wearing the headscarf to obtain the medal on the award ceremony of the 31st Iran Fajr International Challenge was nearly following guidelines set by the organisers and giving respect to the host nation, Tanya Hemanth advised News18

For Tanya Hemanth, the Indian shuttler who received the gold medal within the girls’s singles on the 31st Iran Fajr International Challenge held in Tehran, profitable the sport for India and dealing laborious to enhance her world rating was most vital. Wearing the headscarf to obtain the medal on the award ceremony was nearly a “simple ceremony custom” and respecting the host country, Iran.

Tanya played a brilliant match and stunned fellow Indian and top seed Tasnim Mir to win the women’s singles title. Tanya completely dominated the contest and ended what was seen as the shortest match of the day by defeating Mir in straight games scoring 7-21 11-21.

With this win, her world ranking will now go up from 73 to 60.

An elated Tanya spoke to News18 about her game and described how the win panned out as only women were allowed to attend or even watch the entire tournament. Tanya said that in the first set, both she and Tasnim were playing on equal footing, but as the game progressed, she gained an upper hand.

“I started cruising through. In the second set as well it was similar to the first and then I found the right opportunities and began making more rallies to finish the game,” mentioned the nineteen-year-old. “I am thrilled with the win. It was a very nice experience to see a stadium packed with women. That was a first for me and very inspiring. Even the photographers and organisers were all women. I wore it respecting the country.”

She was responding to a question on the winners at the 31st Iran Fajr International Challenge asked to wear a headscarf during the medal ceremony.

Tanya’s father Hemanth also wanted the media to focus on the game that was played between Tanya and Tasnim and how it was a good achievement for India.

“We went to Iran to play badminton tournament. My daughter has won the gold medal. We followed the simple ceremony custom and we are back. The entire tournament was organised by women in Iran and the hospitality was very good.

We are here as sportsmen and nothing else,” he told News18.

According to the organisers, it was part of the event’s convention that the winners of the matches wear a headscarf at the medal ceremony. This practice was prevalent last year as well when Tasnim won the gold for India.

Both Tanya and Tasnim train under U Vimal Kumar, India’s former chief national coach, and director of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy.

Proud of the way both players have been working hard to climb higher on the world rankings, Kumar also felt that “the women players still have a lot of catching up to do in international levels compared to the men, and the more the tournaments they play the better they will get”.

“I keep telling them that they both have to work and get into the top 30 in the world ranking. Only then will they be able to perform like Saina or Sindhu, or get to that level. These girls need lots of match practice, and international exposure like playing with the Chinese, Koreans, and Indonesians and getting used to their pace. Then they can make it big,” Kumar advised News18.

On wearing the hijab, Kumar said “wearing the headscarf during prize distribution is ok”.

“The organisers did not insist that our girls wear the hijab while playing or cover themselves completely like the Iranians. That would have been different. Our girls are not used to that. Instead, they allowed the girl to play, which is a very good thing,” he said.

Kumar added that sports is a “unifying force” and can do a lot of good. He believes that it helps blur any differences, even in religion.

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