India’s famed badminton doubles exponent Jwala Gutta has decided to go on a sabbatical, telling her partner Ashwini Ponnappa to look out for a partner. There is uncertainty over how long Jwala will be out from competitive badminton. Jwala told IANS that it is indefinite, though she hopes to be back on court as early as in six months’ time.
What has heightened the curiosity is that Jwala has asked Ashwini to quickly find a new partner and carry on playing the doubles till her return. What might put speculation at rest is that Jwala at 29 feels she is good for one more Olympics, but she doesn’t want Ashwini to be hamstrung waiting for her.
“I will be back but don’t know when. I have taken time off as I want to come back fresh and fitter. I needed a break after playing continuously for 6-7 years. I have had a chat with Ashwini about it and she understands my position,” Jwala told IANS. Ashwini, for the time being, will concentrate on mixed doubles with Tarun Kona and look out for a women’s doubles partner. Jwala-Ashwini, the bronze medallists at the last World championships, are easily India’s most successful doubles team on the circuit, and would not like to give it up.
Jwala thinks it is crucial for Ashwini to carry on in her absence even though it is going to be a tough task considering India’s bench strength. “Having said that, she has just started playing and I would tell her to find another partner to continue playing in my absence. It will be tough for her as the second string is way below our level,” she said.