Hyderabad: Jwala Gutta does not see a great future for doubles in the country unless immediate steps are taken by the authorities. Essentially, she seeks a new independent coach in place of Pullela Gopichand, who also handles doubles.
This fiery shuttler from Hyderabad should know. Jwala has done more for doubles in badminton than any other player in the country.
Having won medals in the World championship, Commonwealth Games, Asian championship and Uber Cup, Jwala brought doubles into focus, first with V. Diju and now Ashwini Ponnappa.
“There are three doubles and two singles in mixed team events (like in Sudirman Cup and Commonwealth Games) and today we have no presence in men’s doubles and mixed doubles.”
“How do we expect to win big matches unless we address this problem?” asks Jwala, the only Indian whose rankings helped her qualify for two doubles events in Olympic Games.”
“In my view, the solution lies in getting a new Chief National coach exclusively for doubles.”
“The BAI (Badminton Association of India) should expedite the process and get a coach from Malaysia or Indonesia. Coaches from these countries adjust better in India (as compared to the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) and also, language is also not a barrier.”
Why this desire for a new doubles coach from overseas? “Because he can work independently without getting influenced.
“Look at the results of having just one Chief coach (P. Gopi Chand) for both singles and doubles since 2006. We only have Saina (Nehwal), (P.V.) Sindhu, (P.) Kashyap, (R.M.V.) Gurusaidutt and (K.) Srikanth who have some results to show at the top. Just five singles players in eight years?”
“When the Government spends around 12 crore every year on badminton, on both training and participation at all levels, why is anybody not asking questions from our present Chief coach?” wondered the flamboyant performer.
Neither afraid of speaking the truth nor intimidated by those in power, Jwala seeks more importance to doubles by those who govern and support the sport.
“What hurts me the most is, even those who run the sport do not take doubles seriously. In the Commonwealth Games, we took a team that did not have the right balance. Given that Ashwini and Tarun (Konna) form our best pair in mixed doubles, why was Tarun not taken as part of the team?”
In fact, Ashwini had to play with (singles specialist) Gurusaidutt in the bronze medal match against Canada. And the result was not difficult to guess.
Even in the Uber Cup (womens’ team championship) here in May, Gopi Chand chose to field Saina and Sindhu as a doubles combination after he lost faith in the abilities of specialists Pradnya Gadre and Sikki Reddy.
Jwala concludes, “If we don’t act now, there will be no motivation for the upcoming youngsters to seek a career in doubles.
“Believe me, in all the leading badminton playing countries, doubles enjoys huge patronage from all quarters. It’s time, we treated doubles better.”