Joshna Chinappa equalled Bhuvneshwari Kumari’s record of 16 national titles, while Mahesh Mangaonkar won his maiden crown on the concluding day of the premier domestic event at the HCL campus. In the two contrasting finals, Mahesh pipped Vikram Malhotra 11-4, 13-15, 11-2, 5-11, 15-13, while Joshna edged out Urwashi Joshi 9-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-5. In comparison to the gruelling battle in the men’s final, Joshna had it easier though Urwashi Joshi of Maharashtra did surprise her by taking the first game.As it turned out, the dent Joshna suffered was more of an aberration. The reigning champion ensured the ride was smooth from there on en route a record equalling crown.Overall, Joshna has played in a staggering 18 finals, losing just two of them.
“There is a funny story behind this. When I was 12, my father told me that ‘you have to win your first national title before you turn 16’ and I did it at 14. Her achievements on the international stage easily eclipse Kumari’s feats, and now Joshna wants to break her national record. Joshna has dominated the National Championships over the last two decades but has also had some tough battles with Mekhala Subedar and longtime teammate Dipika Pallikal, who is not a regular at the domestic event.