Scenes of jubilation at an airport when a winning Indian team returns from a tournament abroad are rather common. It sees lots of pomp and show with sounds of dhol, garlanding and family and friends basking in the glory alongside their loved ones. It doesn’t include just cricketers – the darling of sports in India – but even the likes of hockey players, shuttlers, wrestlers and boxers. However, that celebration was missing and there was no sound when Harika Dronavalli returned from Tehran. Dronavalli won a bronze medal at the World Chess Championship in Iran.
She contested in the 64 member tournament and went down in the semi-final tie-break losing to Tan Zhongyi of China who went on to win the gold medal. With the tournament in Iran, another Indian Koneru Humpy opted to stay out – as did many other big names. As per the cultural requirements in Iran, wearing the hijab was made compulsory for female participants for the Championship that began on February 11 and drew to a close on March 5. Some players opted out due to the discomfort of having to wear the hijab but there were some who gave the importance to the World Championship and thus complied with the diktat.
The 26-year-old returned to Hyderabad to a quiet reception with just her parents coming to the airport to receive her and no officials from the All India Chess Federation (AICF) or government officials. In fact, her bronze medal winning exploits weren’t as extensively covered as is the case for many other athletes and sports.
As the feelings have started to sink in, catching up on 😴💤🍲🍫🍰🍨and quality family time is priority 😉 pic.twitter.com/jTJFi9GHKN
— Harika Dronavalli (@HarikaDronavali) 1 March 2017
Harika has won the bronze medal at the 2015 World Chess Championship too – then held in Sochi, Russia. But couldn’t better herself in Tehran this past month.