G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponappa made history by winning India's first ever doubles gold in the Commonwealth Games badminton competition. Coach Gopi Chand's prediction came true with Jwala and Ashwini bringing down top seeds Sari Shinta Mulia and Yao Lei 21-16, 21-19.
Jwala, however, criticised Badminton Association of India President V.K. Verma for being selective in his praise of the players. “Our federation chief (Mr. Verma) did not even congratulate us after our win. That's the least one could have expected from him,” she said, acknowledging the government's support but slamming the association.
Ashwini's power-packed returns from the backcourt — recorded as fastest in the game at 260 mph — and Jwala's net-play, combined well to give the Indian pair a memorable and emotional victory. It was tougher than what the scoreline suggests.
“It was unbelievable,” said Jwala, tears in her eyes. “I rarely cry, but I was too emotional at that point.” She showered praise on her younger partner Ashwini whose powerful smashes made it easier for Jwala to finish.
“Ashwini played excellently. I am lucky to have her as a partner. I am sure she will play equally well in the future.”
Ashwini, who formed the partnership with Jwala only last year, acknowledged Jwala's guidance through the match. “She kept telling me to take my time before serving and slowed me down.
“That really helped. I can't describe this moment. It has not sunk in yet,” said the 23-year-old after winning her first international medal.
Jwala and Ashwini aim to build on this achievement even as doubles strives to gain recognition from all.
“I hope that doubles gets more attention. We have not received it so far from the media especially. I hope this gold also helps us get some sponsorship,” said an elated Jwala.