TAIPEI CITY, CHINESE TAIPEI—Talented fifteen-year-old Ria Balwalli, who only began playing badminton competitively three years ago, is slated to represent the United States at the 5th World Deaf Badminton Championships in the Youth division from July 11 through July 22, 2019, in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei.
First introduced to badminton at the age of 12 by her father, Krishna, who is an avid player having won many local tournaments, Ria began playing competitively in 2015, entering the Junior Nationals in Orlando, Florida. Ria, who is also a trailrunner, immediately discovered how much she loved the similar footwork on the badminton court in addition to the feel of the lightweight racket. Ria shared, “It started when my father and I used to work on drills together with a few other players at an indoor gym.” Ria and her father eventually joined the ClearOne Club in Orlando. It was here that Ria met her personal coach, USA National Championship Bronze Medalist, Hendry Winarto.
Ria’s athletic prowess also extends to other disciplines as well. Prior to taking up badminton, Ria earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. However, today, she focuses solely on perfecting her skills with Badminton. Almost daily, Ria is found training with either her father or Coach Hendry. In addition to her badminton training, Ria alternates her days with battle rope and participates in core and fitness exercises just about every day and runs on weekends and holidays at a nearby park for good measure. She says, “I love being outdoors because I love nature and breathing the fresh air.
In the midst of all her training and competitions, Ria finds time to make education a priority. She is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at her high school. After graduation, Ria plans to attend medical school, specializing in a field that helps individuals with disabilities. Ria also spends time volunteering in her community and will be serving the Central School for the Deaf in India this summer. Despite a rigorous academic and training schedule, Ria manages to enjoy comics, saying, “I just love the fact that there are a lot of pictures in them,” offering a respite from the pile of textbooks on her desk.
This month, she will proudly represent USA at the World Deaf Badminton Championship. Ria mentioned, “What I look forward to most about the Championship is representing my country. I also look forward to earning a medal, making new friends and exploring the culture of Taiwan.”
UPDATE (7/14/2019): Balwalli, who won her Group in round robin play and advanced to the second elimination round on a bye, was defeated in the second round by the eventual finalist Finja Rosendahl of Germany.
Results can be found here.
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