For Nelakurthi Sikki Reddy, it was a moment to cherish when she partnered Aparna Balan to clinch the women's doubles title in the Senior National Badminton Championship, in Srinagar on Wednesday.

This maiden senior national title is remarkable considering that the 19-year-old B.Com final year student was forced to take a year-long agonising break because of a serious right knee injury in 2010 which made it almost impossible for her even to walk without support. “Yes, it is a great feeling to be the national champion for I can never forget that traumatic experience. I must thank my parents (Krishna Reddy and Madhavi) for their belief in me,” she says.

It took months of medical attention under the guidance of Dr. Ashok Rajgopal (the same doctor in Delhi who gave a fresh lease of life in 1994 to Pullela Gopichand) and great grit for Sikki to inch her way back into the competitive circuit.

The women's doubles title partnering Jyotsna in the 2011 Jharkhand National Games was a reminder that she was a force to reckon with.

“Soon, I will start competing in singles too. I have to be careful though because of the rehab programme,” says Sikki Reddy.

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