Shillong: Star shuttler Jwala Gutta today once again asked the Badminton Association of India to stop the "step-motherly treatment" towards its doubles players, saying its high time the federation changes its attitude.
Jwala Gutta. Pic / Atul kamble
"I've won medals at the highest level but you're still not capitalising on the achievement. The doubles are still being given a step-motherly treatment. You need to change your attitude," a concerned Jwala told PTI in an interview on the sidelines of the 12th South Asian Games here.
"After Ashwini and I, there is nobody and that is the plain truth. It's the doubles I'm more worried about," a three-time medalist in the Commonwealth Games 2006, 2010 and 2014 lamented.
"If we want to compete with China, we have to encourage all the events. We can't just bank on singles all the time. Doubles is taken seriously everywhere except India," the ace shuttler said.
"We keep talking about China but if you see...they have at least six players in men's women's doubles and mixed doubles. They give a lot of importance to their doubles players," the only Indian to have qualified for Olympics in two disciplines said.
She pointed out that they won a team bronze in the Thomas Uber Cup in 2014 and with the Asian Team Championships coming up in Hyderabad from February 15, there's no one India can bank on expect for her and Ashwini.
"We still have not done anything to strengthen our team. As a team we are just Saina, Sindhu, myself and Ashwini.
There's nobody else we can bank on. That is because we are not paying attention to our doubles. That's why we're not producing good doubles players," said the former world no 6.
"Asian Team Championship is coming up but we don't have a second pair. Even we cannot bank on our third singles -- we just have Saina and Sindhu."
However, she acknowledged BAI's efforts to appoint a doubles coach in badminton in Tan Kim Her, a Malaysian who has assumed charge in November.
"I had been talking about a doubles coach for last three years. I'm glad he's here. There's lot of personal attention on me and Ashwini, which we needed."
Jwala said she along with her women's doubles partner Ashwini can win a medal at the Rio Olympics, especially having won a bronze at the World Championships in London 2011.
"Nothing easy. I don't think it's easy for the singles players also. If we can win medal at the World Championship, I think Ashwini and I can win at the Olympics also.
"It's just that we need to keep focussing, play a lot of tournaments and do a lot of training, which we're doing right now. I think Ashwini and I are on the right track. We are working really hard. I've shed like 10 kilos. I'm lighter and fitter now. The Malaysian coach is helping us out. He's exclusively for doubles," she said.
On the controversy regarding pulling out of the top singles shuttlers like Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap in the South Asian Games citing injury concerns, Jwala said, "It's their individual choices. I would not blame them also. I am happy to be here. This is the least we could do for our country. My only take was for the juniors to participate as they would take confidence from such meets.
"There's hardly any competition over here. Frankly speaking, this was not in our plan originally. It's the Olympic year and we hardly get any time to train. When we came to know that it's mandatory for us to play here it was a little shocking for us. It was given to us in writing. Our sports minister had requested everybody to participate."
"I came late as I had prior commitments and I could not miss that. The government is also justified as they fund us the whole year. If they expect us to come here for three-four days there's nothing wrong in it. I did not hesitate. I would not say we're pressurised but it was told to us.
Jwala said that she and Ashwini would be taking part in Asian badminton team championship after this tournament.
"We have Asian badminton team championship immediately after this from February 15. We will reach only on 11th and hardly get any time to prepare," she said.