Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Needless Jwala-Gopichand controversy must be nipped in the bud!

Indian badminton has been riding high in recent years with the performances of our shuttlers making the country proud. There have been plethora of occasions when Indian players have scripted upsets in various major international events be it the men or women be it the singles or doubles. ‘Controversy’ was the last thing the sport needed as everything seemed hunky-dory.

And Indian badminton has to put up with such a ‘controversy’ as the country’s top women’s doubles player Jwala Gutta took a dig at national chief coach Pullela Gopichand of not doing enough to push the case of Jwala and her women’s doubles pair Ashwini Poonappa for their inclusion in the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme for which the Sports Ministry has announced two lists of athletes, who will get funding for their 2016 Rio Olympic preparations.

Of course, Jwala’s outburst against Gopichand is not in good taste. We all know how much Gopichand has done for Indian badminton and his work speaks for itself. Just because he is a member of the TOP Identification Committee hardly means that he can influence anything ‘nasty’ to put the Jwala-Ashwini duo of the TOP scheme. A coach, who commands respect among the players, the tirade against him by Jwala is disappointing. There are others like Rahul Dravid, MC Mark Kom, Abhinav Bindra, Anju Bobby George in the TOP Identification Committee and one can be sure that one person won’t have wielded so much clout to keep the Jwala-Ashwini pair out of the TOP scheme.

However, one cannot deny the fact that a raw deal has been meted out to the Jwala-Ashwini duo. The doubles pair, who are ranked in the top-15 should have been picked in the TOP scheme in the first list and one felt that the announcement of the second TOP list, which did not feature the names of Jwala and Ashwini really triggered anger and frustration among them. Both Jwala and Ashwini richly deserved to be included in the TOP scheme and the Sports Ministry must act swiftly to douse the prevailing turmoil by announcing their inclusion in the TOP scheme. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) and the Sports Ministry must talk to Jwala and Ashwini and ask especially, the former to refrain from taking swipes at the national chief coach. Gopichand, on his part, has responded to Jwala’s outburst in his own gentle manner without going hammers and tongs.

For the betterment of Indian badminton, BAI must talk to Jwala and Ashwini and the Sports Ministry promptly facilitate their inclusion in TOP scheme. With less than a year to go for the Rio Olympics, such controversies must be nipped in the bud!
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