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Wake up call to Indian shuttlers

Wake up call to Indian shuttlers
Highlights

The Badminton Asia Team Championships that was held in Hyderabad and ended in a blaze of glory for Indonesian men and Chinese women has come as a timely wake-up call to Indian shuttlers. In effect, they have been brought down to the ground realities, which, bluntly put, indicates that the road leading to Rio is no bed of roses; rather there are too many thorns, along the way. 

The Badminton Asia Team Championships that was held in Hyderabad and ended in a blaze of glory for Indonesian men and Chinese women has come as a timely wake-up call to Indian shuttlers. In effect, they have been brought down to the ground realities, which, bluntly put, indicates that the road leading to Rio is no bed of roses; rather there are too many thorns, along the way.

The most sorrowful development is that, contrary to the general perceptions, it is the women who are struggling to find a foot even though it is largely expected that the likes of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu stand a better chance of having podium finishes at Rio. Given the form displayed in three successive events - Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold Tournament, SAG and the recent one – it looks nay improbable to repose such confidence, the inherent skills and proven performances of Sindhu and the woman doubles combination, notwithstanding.

In a strange twist, Saina Nehwal has skipped all the three events citing injury. Although, one cannot contest such claims, it is rather ironical that she has not been around the competitive circuit for quite a while now. There are already whispers that her attitude is unbecoming of a person on whose shoulders rest millions of hopes. The contention is that although she may not be playing, she could watch Indian matches, particularly Asia Team and SAF events.

Even her presence could be a morale-booster to the Indian contingent. There is logic behind such doubts because these are not orchestrated whispers but come straight from the hearts of the fans, who wish to see India do better than the bronze at London. It looks like something is seriously amiss with the Badminton Association of India (BAI), which has resulted in Saina getting too much of a leeway.

It is a different thing to skip the Badminton Premier League and quite another when she misses events where India’s reputation is at stake. Even the general assumption that she has been staying away from events held in Hyderabad since the time she moved over to Bangalore under Vimal Kumar are also not unfounded.

This raises the question, though premature at this point in time, about her participation in pre-Olympic camps if they are held in Hyderabad, where the chief national coach and her mentor till the other day, Pullela Gopichand, resides.The biggest positive that emerges from the recent championship and comes as a whiff of fresh air is the wonderful bronze showing by the men.

It is somewhat bizarre that it was for the first time that the men had beaten the Chinese in a team event. It is a different matter altogether that China had fielded a second string team, this time around. Gopichand has put it rightly while pointing out that although ‘delighted at the transformation,’ he would not go overboard in his praise as the top players of China were not part of the team. Indian badminton still has miles to go.

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