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 Parimi Nirmala: aiming to win 

Carrom player Parimi Nirmala broke the record of 4 national singles titles held by Vijay Lakshmi Somanchi from New Delhi when she won the Women's National Singles title in Jalandhar in September 2000, for the fifth time in her career. She captained India to victory against Sri Lanka in two Test series held in 1994 and 1998, in India and Sri Lanka respectively.

According to Nirmala, "One should always take aim to win". Not surprisingly, she has an unfulfilled dream. She wants to win the World Carrom Championships in the individual category. Nirmala ended as runner-up in the Women's Singles and Doubles category of the World Championships in Colombo in 1995 and in New Delhi in 2000 . However, she led India to victory in the prestigious Team championship event of the World Championships held in New Delhi this year. The Andhra-born Nirmala says "There is no short-cut to success. One should posses a burning desire within the heart and work hard with sincerity to achieve one's goal".

Nirmala migrated to Mumbai from Hyderabad in 1991. Her husband P Srinivas is an employee of Airport Authority of India in Mumbai. She completed her post-graduation in Mathematics from Osmania University. At present, she is employed with Life Insurance Corporation in Mumbai. Nirmala spoke to about her illustrious career and her future plans.

How did you start your career?
At the age of nine, I represented Hyderabad in the sub-junior category in 1979. I won my first singles title in the junior category in 1983. I beat international Anu Raju in the team championships and the singles category of the Inter-State South Zone Championships, enroute to my victory in the competition in 1986

Who inspired you to take to carrom ?
My father M N Balakrishna, who worked for the irrigation department in Andhra Pradesh, was a sports enthusiast. He played almost all the games including cricket, tennis, football, table tennis, carrom, etc. He always encouraged me towards sports. As a child, I took lessons from established carrom players like Satishchand and B S Chidamabra Rao, who were my father's close friends. They taught me how to play carrom.

Does a coach make a difference in carrom ?
A player can analyze his or her performance only under the guidance of a good coach. In the early part of my career, people remarked about my inability to convert a break into a slam. However, K V R S Murthy, who was the veteran champion from Hyderabad, taught me the technique of an effective slam. Under his able guidance, I was transformed from a good player to a champion. In the early 1980s, B K Haranath, who was the president of Hyderabad Carrom Association, also coached me.

How do you maintain your cool during contests ?
Like every other game, carrom requires mental strength and endurance. If you are nervous, it can affect your play. It is unlike other games where you can escape a dicey situation with some physical display. If you are nervous, your opponent will seize advantage of your nervousness. So, I have learnt to remain calm, and I play an attacking game, if I see that my opponent is nervous.

Who is your favourite carrom player?
I like Vijay Lakshmi Somanchi from New Delhi, who recently held the National record of four National Singles titles. I also admire Arun Deshpande and Suhas Kamble, who coached the Indian team just before the World Championships in Delhi.

Do you think the prize money for women should be on par with the men's category?
There are generally 300 to 350 entries in the men's category, which makes the competition very tough. On the other hand, there are only 60 to 65 entries in the women's category. So, I think it is justified to have greater prize money in the men's category.

What is your opinion about the media coverage of indoor games like carrom ? What steps can be taken to increase the popularity of Carrom?
The media has been doing a good job for the past few years. Some newspapers do offer comprehensive coverage of all the major carrom tournaments. Similarly, Doordarshan has also done the needful while telecasting major tournaments live.

Carrom tournaments should be organised in large numbers. I think people do not take carrom seriously as a game. Perhaps, a nominal entry fee should be charged from the public for the tournaments.

What are your future plans ?
The World championships are held every 4 years. I had bagged the second position in my previous attempts in the championships. So, my aim is to win the next world championship. Right now, I want to concentrate only on the game and have no plans as far as coaching is concerned.

By :Wasim Siddiqui



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