The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) finally managed to end the drama surrounding the selection of its team for the World University badminton championships in Gwangju, Korea, on Monday by deciding to send a 17-member team.

Instead of the originally planned 12-member team including five female players the team will now contain 10 men and seven women following a confirmation from the organising committee from Korea on Monday that it could accommodate that many numbers.

The latest information, in contrast to the 12-member format of six men and six women, dictated by the rules and conveyed by the chief referee on Sunday night, allowed the AIU to accommodate all the players who made a challenge that the selected team was sub-standard.

The team will now have 11 from the batch selected after the “controversial” trials on October 24 and 25 last plus six of those players who had initially boycotted the trials and who put up a “challenge” to defeat some of the selected players in the fresh trials on Sunday.

The six “challengers” accommodated were: Men: Harshvardhan Singh Bisht and Nitish Kumar Arora (DU), Bhuvan Sethi (GNDU) and Vikramaditya (Udaipur); women: Nidhi Tiwari and Shreya Aggarwal (DU).

The original team: Men: Amit Kshetriya (Mumbai), Hamad Bin Aziz (Jamia), Dilshad Kamaluddin (MGU, Kottayam); P.H. Suraj (MGU); Ravi Raj Sharma (Udaipur) and R.N. Suraj (Bangalore); women: Seashadri Sanyal (Calcutta), Haritha M.H. (MGU), Megha Merin Ninan (MGU), Sneha Shantilal (MGU) and Vijetha Bhargav (DU).

The manager, Noor Mohammed, and the coach, M.J. Mohanachandran, both of whom had resigned following Sunday night’s developments were back in their posts once things were sorted out.

All “factions” happy

All “factions” were happy that the drama had ended, the anxiety was over and the team was finally off to catch a late night flight on Monday to Seoul.

Though the compromise formula worked out, with the benevolence of the Korean organisers, eventually helped end a contentious, suspenseful and acrimonious selection drama, several questions remained about the whole process not to speak of the wisdom of sending a team so late.

The mixed team competition begins on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Korean time and the Indian team is expected to reach Gwangju after a four-hour bus ride from Seoul only two hours after the team competition gets underway.

“They can’t make it to the team event,” said an official on Monday. Unless of course the Koreans and the chief referee go out of the way to make further concessions to the Indian team! The question will naturally arise, then why should India field a 17-member team in just the individual events. A team can enter three singles players each in either section and three doubles teams each in men’s, women’s and mixed events.

The Indian players are footing their own expenses at the moment but there is talk that the Human Resource Development Ministry would reimburse the expenses.

The Union Sports Ministry had stopped funding the AIU teams some time back.

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