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Indian badminton player Tanisha Crasto, who was awarded the Golden Visa, feels anyone would give anything to just be part of the Indian team and experience it. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Dubai: Giving up was never an option for Dubai-bred Tanisha Crasto, who is now cherishing the golden moment in her fledgling badminton career with the Indian team.

Born and raised in Dubai, Crasto had to endure plenty of hardships and sacrifices to practice the sport she loves, badminton. Now, those sacrifices are yielding results for the 19-year-old who has been part of the Indian contingent that won the Thomas Cup in London and also making it to two quarter-finals in Taipei. What’s more, she has been awarded the Golden Visa by the Dubai Government.

“I feel really happy at having the Golden Visa. It’s really big thing for me as the 10-year visa gives me the liberty to come back whenever I want, otherwise I have to enter and exit every six months in between my busy schedule, travelling between tournaments. I am really grateful to Dubai government for giving me a Golden Visa,” she told Gulf News as her teammates were busy preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The Indian High School Dubai alumni missed the qualification mark to the Commonwealth Games by one point, but she feels the best have been chosen for the Games and is confident that Team India will return with a rich medal haul.

Full support to Indian team

“I do feel bad that I am not been able to be part of the Indian team as I am not able to contribute my bit to the team, but I feel very happy that India have sent a very strong team. They have very high hopes of winning a medal and from my side I would really support each and everyone from that team and really hope they bring medal for India,” added Crasto.

Though the Taipei dual quarter-finalist missed the experience of being with the team in Birmingham, she cherished every moment of her presence with the Indian contingent during the Thomas and Uber Cup in Bangkok in May when the Indian men scripted history by winning the title for the first time in the 73-year history of the tournament. India defeated fancied 14-time champions Indonesia 3-0 in the final.

“It was a beautiful experience with India winning the Thomas Cup for the first time. I felt lucky and fortunate that I was there with them, witnessing the joy and their win. Anyone would give anything to just be part of the team and experience it,” she says with a glint of pride in her eyes, despite the Indian women losing in the quarter-finals to Thailand.

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Tanisha Crasto meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi after India won the Thomas Cup. Image Credit: Supplied

Even more exciting times were to come. The Indian team met the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It was an amazing feeling to get a medal from the Indian Prime Minister. He said so many things to us like ‘giving was never an option, being part of Team India is a very big achievement. So keep going’ were his advice to us,” says the teen, who has been following the very same principle in her life after leaving the comforts of her home in Dubai and going through the hardships at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.

Hard times

Looking back at her journey from Dubai to the Indian team, the former GCC champion, who relocated to Hyderabad to pursue her dream after having won several titles in the junior ranks in the regional tournaments, says one has to eat, sleep and breathe badminton to be successful in India, one of the top badminton nations of the world today.

“The training in Hyderabad is very different to what I have done in Dubai. It’s really hard and the numerous talented players make you work even harder to move ahead of your competition. Everyday you wake up with the fire in your belly that I wanted to do better than what I did yesterday. Waking up every single day like this will automatically make you a much better player. The badminton court is the first thing and the last thing you see before and after your sleep,” Crasto reminisced of her journey.

“Initially, there were times when I told my parents that I don’t think I can do it here, I am tired. It was tough being away from my family, being away from the lifestyle I had in Dubai. The one thing that really kept me going is the love for the sport and I really wanted to do something in the sport and make my parents proud of me,” she added. “Being here not only teaches you how to play badminton, it also teaches you a lot about life. The life lessons like how to deal with issues, how to wash your own clothes and managing your food and many more. I am sure it will take me to bigger places.”

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Tanisha Crasto is aiming to get below top-30 in the mixed doubles in world rankings. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

All those sacrifices, the distress and the hardships have yielded the desired results as she could not only watch and play against her idols, she could even laugh and have fun with them. “It’s an amazing feeling to be part of the Indian senior team. A completely different experience. I saw my idols, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, play right in front of me. Never in my life I thought I would play, laugh and have a great time with all of them, being as one team. They are not only great players, they are such nice human beings. They take care of us well and it was great to see your idols on and off court,” said a proud Crasto after her dream came true.

Enjoying the pressure and limelight

But being part of such luminaries will have its own advantage and disadvantage. The pressure to perform will be huge, especially with badminton seeing a huge increase in the number of fans of late, boosted by the consistent success by the Indian players in international arena.

Asked if it is a huge pressure or something that she cherishes, Crasto replies as fast as she hits a forehand return. “I don’t take it as a pressure. I enjoy every bit of what I do. I feel it as a good thing.”

Crasto, who loves the doubles game more than the singles, made it to two quarter-finals in the recently concluded Taipei Open. Partnering up with Ishaan Bhatnagar the pair lost in the mixed doubles quarter-finals to Malaysia’s Hoo Pang Ron and Toh Ee Wei 21-19, 21-12. Playing with Shruti Mishra they lost to eventual champions Ng Tsz Yau and Tsang Hiu Yan of Hong Kong in the women’s doubles quarters.

Talking about her goals, Crasto says she generally doesn’t set long-term targets, but is focused on performing consistently in the Superseries. However, the short-term goal is to bring her double rankings to under-30.

“My immediate goal is to perform well in the World Championship in Tokyo in late August while this year-end goal is to be in the top 30 in mixed doubles rankings, right now I could be in 43 or 44,” said the teenager belying her age before signing off and heading to Hyderabad to continue “focusing on her practice and playing badminton” under the tutelage of Gopichand.