The 22-year-old, who was in the news for accusing national coach Pullela Gopichand of “mental harassment” last year, will be playing in the mixed doubles event with Kamaldeep Singh and partnering Aarti Sara Sunil in women’s doubles. “Kamal is just trying to support me as no one was willing to play alongside me. Even Thomas has pulled out.
He’s saying that he was not getting a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the Kerala Badminton (Shuttle) Association (KBSA). It’s bad that KBSA withdrew his name without even informing me. They should have at least informed me. Even BAI is not aware why his entry was withdrawn,” she said.
It is learnt that KBSA secretary and BAI vice-president S Muralidharan didn’t give Thomas clearance to take part in the mixed doubles with Sawant. The pair had won the Bahrain International Challenge in November.
Sawant believes Thomas didn’t wish to play alongside her as he didn’t want to get involved in court proceedings. “I had asked Thomas to write a letter or send an e-mail saying that he wants to play with me so that he gets permission to play from the court, but he said no. He said, ‘I can’t play because I am being pressurised’,” said Sawant.
Sawant said she doesn’t expect much going into the tournament. “We (Kamaldeep and Sawant) played recently in Pune and lost in the early stages. I’ll just go out to win and give my 100 per cent. I won’t think about the result. If I win, it’s a bonus for me.” About her participation in the Nationals, Sawant said, “That’s my right as I am ranked higher than other players. They can’t stop me from playing.”
Talking about her women’s doubles partner, Sawant said: “Aarti has just entered the seniors. She has not played many major tournaments. I just told her not to take any pressure and give your best.” Meanwhile, BAI revised its draws yesterday after Sawant was allowed to participate in the mixed doubles event.