Indian badminton: Jwala Gutta, the doubles flame


jwalaImage via Wikipedia

 

Jwala Gutta has always been in the news but always for the wrong reasons.

Unlike her singles counterpart, Saina Nehwal, controversy seems to court her with a vengeance.

So who is Jwala Gutta?

Jwala is a left-handed badminton player of mixed Indian and Chinese descent.

According to Wikipedia:

“Her mother’s grandfather, Tseng from Tianjin, was a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi and stayed with him at Sevagram ashram, where he translated Gandhi’s autobiography and other works into Chinese.”

With her doubles victory partnering Ashwini Ponappa at the CommonWealth Games 2010 , New Delhi, Gutta is now a household name and can count herself among the limited pantheon of Indian sports heroes.

Jwala and her partner Diju also clinched a silver at the CWG in the mixed doubles , going down in the final to the Malaysian pair Koo Kien Keat and Chin Ee Hui 14-21, 21-10, 10-21.

But the path to glory has been a thorny one.

 

Prakash Padukone at the Tata Open championship...Image via Wikipedia

 

Badminton has always been a sport in which India have produced top 50 players since Prakash Padukone first exploded on the badminton scene over two decades ago.

Padukone is still considered India’s finest individual sportsperson ever. And that says a lot.

Doubles Success

Jwala Gutta has enjoyed relatively little success in singles.

But her trajectory in the doubles category has shown a decidedly upward slope since her first semi final appearance at the India Asia Satellite tournament in 2002.

She has since won six tournaments in women’s doubles:

2006

The  Sri Lanka International Satellite

2007

Cyprus Badminton International

Pakistan International Challenge

Indian International Challenge

2008

Nepal International Series

Yonex Dutch Open Grand Prix

Her track record in the mixed doubles category has been equally impressive.

jwalaImage via Wikipedia

 

2005

Jakarta Satellite

Welsh International

2007

Sri Lanka International Satellite

Cyprus Badminton International

Indian International Challenge

2008

Nepal International Series

Bitburger Open Grand Prix

KLRC Bulgaria Open Grand Prix

2009

Grand Prix Gold , Chinese Taipei

Personal life

But if Jwala Gutta has been in the news over the years, it has been mainly because of her tumultuous personal life and her skirmishes with the Badminton Authority of India (BAI).

Indian badminton players Chetan Anand and Jwal...Image via Wikipedia

 

Until recently Jwala Dutta was married to badminton player, Chetan Anand.

Chetan Anand lost in the semi-finals of the men’s singles at the CommonWealth Games. He is India’s top ranked male shuttler.

Jwala Gutta filed for a divorce on 5 August, 2010.

She has been linked to Mohammad Azharuddin, the former India cricketer ,skipper and now politician.

Azharuddin was believed to be keen on contesting the BAI elections for the post of President but backed out after the adverse publicity.

Rebelling and railing against the BAI

Over the years, Jwala Gutta has complained loudly and persistently about the disinterest exhibited by the BAI officials towards doubles players. Financial support has been the crux of the disputes.

It is only the Indian government’s subsidies that have allowed the players to compete in top events. That has been the bane of Indian badminton over the years. Though our shuttlers are talented, without the facilities and the ability to compete in international meets, they languish behind their counterparts elsewhere.

Chetan Anand himself admits that saying that without the government funding in the recent year or so towards preparing for the CWG games, he would have been unable to lift  his ranking to its current level.

The BAI has been known to be lackadaisical in its attitude towards its constituents.

It was not surprising that Jwala slammed the current BAI president VK Verma for ignoring her and her partner Ashwini Ponappa after their gold medal win at the CWG games.

"One thing for which I am not happy was our federation chief (V K Verma) did not even congratulate us after our win. Our president who was sitting and watched the match whole time, did not come to congratulate us,"

"I was not really happy with the way our association is working. I would like to change a lot of things in the coming years,"

"Me, Ashwini and V Diju are doing really well on the international circuit. We have got support from the government but don’t know how much we have got from the association,"

It was the trio of Jwala Dutta, Chetan Anand, and Jwala’s then partner Shruthi Kurien who rebelled against the BAI in 2007 for preventing them from participating in Super Series events at their own cost and instead attend training camps conducted under its auspices. The man in charge then was the very same VK Verma.

For Jwala, the CWG gold was sweet return for the trials and tribulations she and her contemporaries have endured at the hands of the BAI.

Will the BAI and especially Mr. Verma stand up and applaud our shuttlers?

Not just when they win!

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Badminton. This...

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Quote of the day:
I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn. – Albert Einstein

Note: This is a corrected version of the earlier article. It was Ashwini Ponappa who partnered Jwala Gutta at the CWG. Arati Ponappa is a former tennis player , seven time national champion. She is married to Gaurav Natekar, another former tennis player and also seven time national champion. She does have a badminton connection in her father-in-law, Nandu Natekar, an eight time national  winner in his heyday.

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