Arjuna Award at age 21, Padma Shri at age 23, and a gold and two silver Commonwealth Games medals. Yes we are up with the biography of one of India’s most successful athlete and wife of Indian cricketer Dinesh Karthik, Dipika Pallikal Karthik. From fighting against her nation’s system to fighting against the world for that very nation, Dipika Pallikal has lived her life in her own state of swagger. Life too played with her in a swagger of its own. She hated Cricket and she finally fell for a Cricketer to spend her life with. Not just a good athlete, she has done enough in her life to let herself be proudly labeled a good daughter, a good student, and a good wife. Her life was full of ups and downs but she never gave up to anything. Her confidence was strong enough to give her the strength to fight even against the system that was supposed to look after her. Many offered to help her out if she stops being so ruthlessly honest, but she knew she didn’t need any help to reach her destination. No her story is no Iqbal-esque tale, but it is one of those stories that will make even the mist feeble of women feel strong at heart. Right from her early life to her current life, here is everything in between you probably need to know about Dipika Paliwal Karthik.
Full Name: Dipika Palikal Karthik
Height: 5’8″ (171cm)
Father’s Name: Sanjiv Palikal
Mother’s Name: Susan Palikal
Date Of Birth: 21 September 1991
Place Of Birth: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Spouse: Dinesh Karthik (Married 15 November 2013)
Net Worth: ~$1.5 million
Born on 21st September 1991, Dipika Pallikal has always been an aggressive girl who least bothered about the world and lived her life on her own terms. Born in the Tamil Capital, Chennai, Dipika actually belongs to a Keralite Malayali family. Her mother was a Women’s Cricketer and that prompter her to choose sports as her career field. For some reason, she never liked Cricket, despite her own mother being a cricketer and thus participated in other sports than Cricket. She probably liked squash so much that she knew this was what her career was going to look like. Or course it was not going to be easy! She worked hard and by the time she turned old enough to play the juniors, the authorities made sure she doesn’t do so. As she states, the authorities asked her to lower her strong attitude if she is to practice at the national units. Dipika was never a girl who would accept this. She stood up, talked to her mom, and flew to egypt to continue her further training. Her mother was the closest person to her. She stood by her side and kept giving her the strength she needed at every stage of her life. Even now, Dipika prefers to stay with her mother to get herself some rest. Dipika studied at the Ethiraj College with English being her major subject.
Dipika Pallikal was good at squash but never thought of it as a career option. While still playing her juniors, she had to bear the brunt of an unorganised federation that banned her from entering the academy. The reason for that being Dipika’s outspoken nature. Dipika had been from the team despite being amongst the top ranked squash players in the country. She went out and spoke openly about this in the country. Her actions didn’t go down very well with the federation as she received a ban from even entering the national academy. That triggered a desire in Dipika to become so good in Squash that the federation couldn’t dare to keep her out of the team. She, along with her mother, moved to Egypt to carry forward her dream of becoming one of world’s best squash players. She kept working hard, and by 2011, she was amongst the top 20 squash players of the world. That had prompted the federation to mail her a request asking her to play for India. The battle that she spent her life fighting for had been won. Dipika Pallikal had left no other option for the national federation but to request Dipika to forget about all what happened in the early days and represent her country. Keeping all her differences aside, Dipika returned to India and started her pro career as an Indian Squash player.
Dipika began her squash career as a pro in the year 2006, but it was only in 2011 that the world got to know the beast of a player hidden within her. 2011 was by far the peak of her career, as she managed to etch her name on three WISPA titles for 2011; first in Irvine, California by winning the Orange County Open, second in the United States as well, and third in Hong Kong at the fag end of the year by winning the Crocodile Challenge Cup. That propelled her to break into the top 20 world rankings for the first time and sit merrily at the 17th best position in the world. After that, it was the World Open, where she managed to reach the top eight. That took her ranking to an even better number, 14. She was now holding the record of India’s highest ranked squash player ever. Records and Dipika went hand in hand from thereon. She became the first Indian to reach the final of a silver event by managing to battle it out for the Tournament Of Champions Squash Meet in New York. Next record was for a gold event, when she became the first Indian to reach the semi-final of a gold event as she did so by reaching the semi-finals of Australian Open in 2012 itself. She, along with Joshna Chinappa, played a pivoting role in helping India finish fifth in the 2012 Women’s World Team Squash Championship despite being ranked 10th in the tournament. She didn’t just stop there and went on to break into the top 10 world rankings with her next title in Meadowood Pharmacy Open. She had not just defeated the federation now, she had now done just enough to make the government award her the Arjuna Award, the second highest sports award of the nation. In 2014, it was time for her to repay that medal, and she did that in the best possible way. She, along with Joshna Chinappa, managed to win a gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the Women’s doubles category, bringing India their first ever medal in squash in the CW games. She then helped the Indian team in bagging a gold and a silver at the South Asian Games and Asian Team Championship in Taipei. She proudly trains currently at the ICL-TNSRA Academy at Chennai and keeps visiting Egypt every now and then to train under her coach, whom she credits all her success to.
Dipika and Karthik had known each other since their childhood. However, they didn’t have much interaction early on and there was just no bonding between them whatsoever, but they do knew each other. Dinesh Karthik had an attraction for her and texted her asking her to meet up if possible. Dipika, being more focused towards her career and finding the romantic stuff did interesting, kept denying Karthik. However, Karthik kept trying and one day they both did went out for a breakfast date, the first of many which followed. Karthik the flew down to meet her in England, and that was where Dipika gave her heart to him. Dipika told her mother about the relationship just days later and the two got engaged some 8-9 months after getting along. Marriage did came a bit later, three years later to be precise, and two have now managed to endure a happily married life from the past six years. Both of them remain busy with their schedule but when free, visit each other and spend time together. When Dinesh Karthik is not playing and Dipika is, he flies down to meet her and attend her tournament. Dipika, irrespective of her schedule, frees time during the IPL, and stays by her husband’s side during the tiring month-long tournament. They both have their plans sorted and despite the little breakers that have come their way have managed to keep their relationship healthy all along.
Cricket in our country has grown enough to overshadow every other sport, leave aside squash. Squash players in our country do not have the comfort of getting everything arranged for them from their training to the hotels in foreign places, but are needed to do everything on their own. Moreover, women in the sport have to manage with a modest winning amount in the national tournaments despite putting in equal efforts as done by the men. Dipika was agitated with this right from her childhood and had a burst out with the federation when she grew up as well. She openly opposed the low winning amount offered to women in squash and started a campaign to raise to an equal level as men. She did succeed in her campaign and equal sum was awarded to women from the 2016 championships. Eventually, Dipika turned out to be first winner of that sum as she defeated her own partner, Joshna Chinappa in the final of 2016 championships.
Being so unlike women with her attitude in her career, Dipika Pallikal Karthik has all the interests that we’ve known a woman to have since ages. She loves cooking and takes care of her house perfectly. She loves dogs and has never been without one in her life. She doesn’t like to party out much and prefers staying back at home with her mother when free. Though Egypt became her second home almost, her love for Chennai and India never dried away. She still loves to stay back at Chennai and sleep cozily on her very own bed.
She has her eyes set on the 2018 and 2022 CWG and Asian Games, where she hopes to bring more laurels to the country. We hope her grit and hard work helps her reach newer heights with the passing time and see herself reach the numero uno ranking in the world.