Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium presents the other side of Indian badminton. All those who are either uncomfortable with chief national coach Pullela Gopichand or feel more at home with Dronacharya S.M. Arif train regularly here which was once the hub of badminton in the city.
The most prominent of them is Gutta Jwala. And, her dreams of staging a comeback to big league might just hit a roadblock because of her decision to partner Prajakta Sawant (who filed a court case against Gopichand on grounds of alleged bias in selection).
The champion doubles player is back to training after a gap of three months since 2012 Olympics and is keen to take part in the German Open and the prestigious All-England Championship in March first week. “I have decided to partner Prajakta since Ashwini Ponnappa has promised to be with Pradnya Gadre till April this year. I did not want Ashwini to break it,” says Jwala. However, Jwala, the bronze medallist in the 2011 World Championship and winner of 16 senior national doubles titles, is not sure about the Badminton Association of India response.
Sources say she was bluntly told by the BAI to desist from partnering Prajakta.
Why Prajakta as her partner? “I feel sorry for her. I just wanted to help her,” replied Jwala. “I am playing for the love of the game and I am not scared of anything. I will continue to fight the system,” she insists. Jwala also questioned the double standards of the BAI who accused her of not taking part in national events to be considered for national team selections but apply a different yardstick to a select few.
“You cannot have different rules for different players,” she argues. However, BAI secretary K. Ch. Punnaiah Choudary says if Jwala is not picked officially in the Indian team, she can take part on her own and with any partner including Prajakta.