Award Name : Arjuna Award
Year of Award : 2005
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Aparna Popat is one of the most successful women badminton players of India and two times Olympian. During her career peak between 1997 and 2006, she was the national champion, winning all major national championship titles. Thus this outstanding player holds a record of nine times National Champion. Though now she has retired from active sports, most recently in February 2016, she won two doubles titles at GD Birla Memorial Masters at Bombay Gym, aside Naheed Divecha. She spent 17 long years in her badminton career till retirement in 2006. She was born on 18 January 1978 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She is of Gujarati origin. She completed graduation from Mumbai University. She started playing badminton in 1986 in Mumbai at the age of 8. It was her coach Anil Pradhan who identified her talents quite at a younger age. In 1994, she moved to Bangalore where she joined Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy. She got training from legendary badminton player Prakash Padukone who trained her to compete in international level championships. She also did her higher secondary education in Bangalore. In 2002 she shifted to the Sports Authority of India training centre at Kengeri, where she received training from Gangula Prasad.
Her success race started in the year 1997 when she won her first Senior National title at Hyderabad in 1997. Since then she successively won Senior National title till 2006 (9 times). Thus she equaled the record of her guru, none other than Prakash Padukone. She won the National title for the last time, defeating the 15-year-old Saina Nehwal at Bangalore in 2006. Till Saina Nehwal took over the position of Nation’s new champion, Aparna Popat had a glorious career of one decade. She was conferred the Arjuna Award in 2005, and the following year, after winning the senior level national championship she was forced to retire following a wrist injury. During retirement she was the top seed women badminton player holding the number one position. After retirement she took her new role as a coach.