Who is Dipika Pallikal Karthik?
Dipika Pallikal Karthik is an Indian squash player who became the first Indian to break into the top 10 in the PSA Women's rankings. She achieved this feat in 2012. The previous year, she had clinched three WISPA titles: the Orange County Open, the Dread Sports Series 2 event and the Crocodile Challenge Cup. She had also reached the quarterfinal of the World Open, which gained her worldwide attention. With these results, she reached her career-best ranking of 10 in December 2012. That year, she was honored by the government with the 'Arjuna Award'. 2014 was another important year in her career as she won the women's doubles gold medal along with Joshna Chinappa at the Commonwealth Games, followed by a bronze medal in women's singles at the Asian Games. She received the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, in 2014. In 2016, she was part of the gold-medal-winning Indian Women's team at the South Asian Games and the silver-medal-winning Indian Women's team at the Asian Team Championship.
Childhood & Early Life
Dipika Rebecca Pallikal was born on September 21, 1991 in Chennai, India, into a Malayali family. Both her parents, Sanjiv and Susan Pallikal, are Syrian Christians originally from the state of Kerala. Her father runs his own business, Reach Management Consultancy. Her mother played international cricket for the Indian women's team and also captained the team. Interestingly, Dipika, who never liked cricket too much due to the fact it overshadowed most other sports in India, took up squash instead. She has two sisters, Divya and Dia. She attended Good Shepherd School and Lady Andal School before completing her graduation in English from Ethiraj College in Chennai in the 2012-13 academic year.
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Dipika Pallikal Karthik played in an international tournament in London for the first time when she was in her sixth grade. She went on to win several tournaments on the European Junior Squash Circuit. She received the membership of the India Cements Squash Academy in 2002, following which she became the National Champion at the age of 11. She became a professional player in 2006, but her performance was inconsistent during the initial days. However, in the early 2011, she had a brief training stint in Egypt which dramatically increased her ability to deliver winning performances. She had started 2011 at 29th spot, and came into spotlight in December after winning 3 major WISPA tour titles to acquire a profession-first-class rating of 17, which made her the highest ranking Indian woman squash player ever, surpassing former national champion Misha Grewal's 27th rank in 1995. She finished in the top eight in the World Open, which took her to 14th rank in February 2012.
In December 2012, she became the first Indian player to broke into the top 10 Along the way, she became the first Indian to reach the summit clash of a Silver event, the first to reach the semi-finals of a gold event, and helped the Indian squash team finish fifth in the 2012 Women's World Team Squash Championships. She credits her trainers Cyrus Poncha and Major (rtd) S. Maniam for her success.
Boycotting National Championships
Dipika Pallikal Karthik boycotted the National Championship Squash competition from 2012 to 2015 due to inequality in prize money between women's championship winner and men's championship winner. At the time, the women's title winner only got 40% of the prize money of the men's title winner. The competition board finally agreed to equal prize money for the 2016 championships, in which she won the title by defeating Joshna Chinappa.
Relationship with Dinesh Karthik
Dipika Pallikal met Indian wicket-keeping batsman Dinesh Karthik for the first time during the Chennai marathon in 2008. At the time, Karthik was married to Nikita Vanjara, from whom he got divorce in 2012. Dipika and Dinesh met again in 2013 while training at Mr. Shankar Basu’s Maverick gym in Chennai when the trainer formally introduced them to each other. This time things escalated fairly quickly after he gave her a surprise visit in England where she was training. The two got engaged in November 2013 at two private ceremonies – one Christian and one following Hindu tradition – both held at the ITC Grand Chola in Chennai. When the couple got married two years later in August 2015, they again had two separate ceremonies due to the fact that Dinesh's family is Hindu while Dipika is a Christian.