This category contains 20 posts

Saina Nehwal: Likes

“… I get over a million likes when I meet our political leaders or film actors; I get around a few lakh likes on winning matches,  or for snaps from monuments or foreign landmarks.” 

—Saina Nehwal. 

Pulella Gopichand: Physical literacy

“In the last few years, somewhere down the line, we have lost the importance of physical movement. We have moved a lot more towards alphabetical literacy, numerical literacy and forgotten what the basics of physical literacy are. I think in our race to become more and more educated alphabetically,  we have lost the fundamental of physical movement and it brings us back to our early days when our own native games used to have so much physical literacy in them.”

—Pulella Gopichand. 

Pulella Gopichand: Happiness index

“Sport is fundamental if we want our happiness index to go up. The physical activity brings new brain cells. Sports, physical exercise  and education have a lot of synergy. Sport needs to be up there.” 

—Pulella Gopichand. 

Pulella Gopichand: Playing and coaching

“… as a player,  you are internally driven. It’s about you,  your body and mind working in unison on the court. As a coach,  it’s the same but in reverse—you take that drive and channel it onto the player.” 

—Pulella Gopichand. 

Gopichand versus Gutta: War of words heats up

The war of words between members of Pulella Gopichand’s camp and Jwala Gutta’s supporters intensified.

English: V Diju & Jwala Gutta

English: V Diju & Jwala Gutta Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a diatribe defending the former All-England champion, the SAI director-general Injeti Srinivas said:

“We firmly stand by Gopi. His credentials as player, coach and administrator cannot be questioned. His contribution to the game is unparalleled and cannot be nullified by such unjustified outburst by an athlete. Having said that, Jwala’s allegations against him are in bad taste.”

He added:

“These comments are unfair and baseless. In the last TOP committee meeting, it was Gopi who urged the identification committee to bring all deserving doubles pairs in badminton into the scheme, including the duo. Earlier, he was the driving force behind the game getting a specialist foreign coach in doubles. Disappointment is one thing. But criticising an accomplished person such as Gopi openly without ascertaining facts is not fair. There are certain ‘Laxman rekhas’ that she should be aware of.”

Srinivas claimed that there is no ‘conflict-of-interest‘ in Gopichand being the chief national coach and the majority of players selected hailing from his academy in Hyderabad.

He said:

“It is not that the national coach has canvassed for his membership in the TOP committee or his academy to be made a national training centre. We thrust it on him and he has delivered. 
We treat all athletes equally. No discrimination has been made whether it is in international exposure or training. Jwala and Ashwini have performed with complete support from the government.”

What Gopichand has singlehandedly wrought for the game of badminton in India in the past decade almost matches what the Chinese accomplished with their unstinting support and accompanying infrastructure over the last three decades.

While it is true that a doubles specialist coach, Tan Kim Her of Malaysia, has been appointed till the 2020 Olympics, this does not appear to have been communicated to the very players who would benefit from it most.

Speaking at a promotional event in Mumbai on Sunday, Jwala’s partner Ashwini Ponappa said:

“It’s doing the rounds but I know absolutely nothing about the status of the appointment. It would definitely help if we had a separate coach for doubles. But what would also be good is if we have a separate camp for doubles. If you’re good at singles, you don’t need to be forced to play doubles just to make up the numbers.”
Ponappa also commented on the state of the doubles scene in badminton.
“Most juniors end up choosing singles because of the immense support and attention they are promised. You can’t blame them for choosing to do so. Nor can you force them to play doubles. Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy are doing well and it’s good to see that ours isn’t the only doubles pair winning tournaments. I think the reason why other countries are doing well is because they have separate coaches for singles as well as doubles and even mixed doubles. When we talk about us lacking that extra edge when it comes to playing them, I think this is what we’re talking about.”
The petite shuttler went on to criticize the administration’s strange policies.
“I’ve read in the papers that they are looking to support us, but I don’t think I will have much to say until it actually happens. It’s never too late to give us the facilities that we are asking for. To begin with, the two of us train in different cities. While I train at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, Jwala trains in Hyderabad. We don’t have a physio. We pay for our own nutritionists, supplements and trainers. The other players who are a part of TOPS get everything they need. Things do get a lot expensive for us. You then start taking your body for granted by pushing it because you want to play more tournaments.
I don’t think they are getting the right advice. You have four singles players when you can have only two participating in the Olympics. Not only are these guys taking two extra players who won’t qualify, but they are also not supporting a proven doubles pair. It just doesn’t make sense. After the fiasco that happened in 2012, the last thing Jwala and I want is not to participate in the Rio Games.”
The 25-year-old remains optimistic about their chances of qualifying for the Rio Olympics.
“For doubles, the top 16 pairs will qualify and we have to be there. Ideally, we want to be in the top 10. The qualifying process started in May and ends exactly a year later. There are quite a few tournaments (coming up), but anything can happen. There’s still a long way to go. Our next goal is to do well at the BWF World Championships in Jakarta in August.”
 The sordid saga continues.
Miscommunication and non-communication is the name of the game.
Each side prefers to make its views public. There is no attempt to resolve matters behind closed doors.
If the SAI  and the national federation back Gopi, Jwala runs to her state leaders seeking their approval and intervention.
It is a game of cards with both parties striving to build winning hands.
What is quite apparent to sports lovers, however, in this public charade, only the sport loses and yet even more aspiring sportsmen and women are leery of making a living from their love of the game.
This is the sad and true story of almost all things sport in India.

Fearless Jwala makes a case for inclusion in TOP scheme

When Jwala Gutta first made her plaints public that she and her partner Ashwini Ponnappa were denied aid under the ‘Target Olympic Podium’ (TOP) scheme of the Union government because they were not under Pulella Gopichand’s tutelage, most probably dismissed it as a case of sour grapes.

Their recent exploits at the US and Canadian Opens have nailed that lie.

A semi-final finish at the US Open was followed by a title win in Canada.

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Badminton. This...

Pictograms of Olympic sports – Badminton. This is unofficial sample picture. Images of official Olympic pictograms for 1948 Summer Olympics and all Summer Olympics since 1964 can be found in corresponding Official Reports. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a Times of India report:

“A top ministry source told TOI:

‘When we analyzed the performance of Jwala and Ashwini in the recent past, we realised they had not made much impact. They had won medals at the Uber Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships in 2014 but we were looking for a consistent streak this year,’ the source said.

‘In the last meeting, we put the duo on watch. We decided that if they come up with a creditable performance we will include them in the scheme. After the Canada Open victory, the committee will take a more positive view about Jwala and Ashwini.'”

It seems to be a case of either or both:

  • Doubles badminton is not considered important enough to deserve funding.
  • Gopichand does not press the cases of players who are not with his academy.

Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, P. Kashyap, K. Srikanth (allotted Rs. 90 lakh each) , Gurusaidutt and H.S. Prannoy (allotted Rs. 60 lakh each) are the shuttlers currently selected under the scheme.

English: jwala

English: jwala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gutta said:

“I don’t know what to do really. I hope that they are at least thinking about it (funding) right now. This is what. Being a player, I am supposed to train and practice and only think about my game, what I have to develop and what weaknesses I have to take care of. 

Instead if I have to go to Delhi, spend a day, two or three, go behind them. This is what we should not be doing. We are the best bet in doubles for Olympics and we should be given all the support. At least after the Canadian Open, I hope people and the ministry of sports realise and support us. That’s all we need.

Lot of players are performing, including singles, only because of government funding. If government does not fund, lot of players will be lost. We are really depending on the government. This TOP [Target Olympic Podium] scheme is that extra boost.

Definitely [absence of government support would make it tough for the players to get into doubles]. After Ashwini and me, I don’t see anybody else coming up. You can see it. I stopped playing mixed doubles and there is no result in mixed doubles. I was world number six. People who are talking about me and my performance and questioning my career and my achievements, where is the next mixed doubles pair, please show it to me. I would like to know.”

Controversy has always dogged the glam girl of Indian women’s badminton.

English: Mohammad Azharuddin Sangeeta Bijlani

English: Mohammad Azharuddin Sangeeta Bijlani (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From her turbulent personal life whence she married and divorced another shuttler Chetan Anand and had to counter media speculation about an affair with former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin, her much publicized  run-ins with the Badminton Association of India (BAI) satraps and her successful overturning of a life-ban for disruptive conduct while representing and leading Delhi Smashers at the Indian Badminton League (IBL), Gutta has always been at the forefront of any criticism of administration in her sport.

The firebrand activist also presents a glamorous front on social media with her Facebook photos drawing thousands if not more likes every time she dons a fresh and  colorful outfit.

Will Gutta have her way?

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is firmly on her side.

In a missive to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rao wrote:

“Jwala Gutta, the badminton player who is currently ranked 13th in the world, has brought laurels to the country on many occasions by winning tournaments at the international level.

She is the first-ever Indian woman to have won a medal at the world championships and the only Indian in the Indian history of Olympics to qualify for two events.”

In another salvo at the BAI post her Canada win, the fiery doubles specialist said:

“I am fearless, both off and and on the court. Then on court, I play. People don’t like to hear what I have to say. I don’t think I need to change anything now. My coach and father (Kranti) never told me to change.

Without any support of coach, shuttles, physio, we have been performing at an international level. On the other hand, the singles players get all the support. They have masseurs, sparring partners, shuttles and don’t spend a single penny when they go out. On the contrary, we have to spend money even for our laundry. I’m not complaining but at the same time they should think about us. Why target only Ashwini and me?

After all I am a human being. Initially I used to get affected but not any more. Badminton has become popular in the country not because of  singles players but also because of doubles performance. We performed at the highest level.

We are very disheartened that we were not in the TOP scheme. It has become a habit. But this is a good way to answer the critics.”

Launching another broadside at Pulella Gopichand—the chief national coach, Jwala said:

“I end up cribbing after each win, ‘cos that’s the only time people are ready to listen and understand what I am saying. Ashwini and I have achieved so much in our career, but have never gotten our due and it is just because of one person – Gopichand. We are World No. 13 now, but instead of supporting us, he is only pulling us down. So, I want to speak now in the hope that this win will get us included in the TOP Scheme.

It seems the whole country is rejoicing over our Canadian Open win except the chief national coach. It is overwhelming that everyone from President, Prime Minister, Chief Minister, the Sports Minister’s Office to well-wishers have sent Ashwini (Ponnappa) and me congratulatory messages. But there was just no acknowledgement from Gopichand. it matters to me because he is the top administrator. He should be happy about this win.

The chief national coach is responsible for every single player. Ashwini and I won bronze at the BWF World Championships in 2011, a gold and silver at 2010 and 2014 CWG, both firsts for the country. Yet, we are not included in the TOP Scheme! Why? Just because we are not from Gopi’s academy? Is it fair that Gurusai Datt’s name is in TOP Scheme? (He is ranked No. 43). If the government or Gopi thinks the highest ranked women’s doubles team of India isn’t good enough to take a bet on for Olympics, there is something seriously wrong. I think he should step down.”

Jwala’s partner, Ponappa added:

“The chief national coach should actually be the one who is most proud of this win and be the first to congratulate us. But that’s not the case when it comes to Jwala and me. And that just means there is something wrong. If he was someone who treated all players equally, I think he would be happy that we won gold at the Canadian Open. And if he can’t do that, if he can’t be equal and fair to all players, I totally stand by what Jwala said – Gopichand should step down as the chief national coach.”

Pulella Gopichand responded to Jwala’s allegations thus:

“Okay, let me take this opportunity to say that I would like to congratulate Jwala on her great victory at the Canadian Open. Their event wrapped up on Sunday and they came back on Tuesday night. I sent representatives from the Rangareddy Association, of which I am president, to receive Jwala at the airport. on Wednesday morning, Jwala says she hasn’t received a congratulatory message from me! It’s not like it has been a week already! I am not on Twitter or Facebook, so I can’t post messages online. I was at the President’s dinner on Tuesday. Maybe, I would have messaged her today, but if I do that now, it will look like I did it because she complained!

As for me stepping down, well, Jwala has no moral standing to say that, because we have always supported her. She has gone for 200 tournaments or more in the last 10 years and if I don’t propose her name, how would she go? If she says I haven’t supported her, let her specify. If it is about sponsors, come on, I am not responsible for players getting sponsors. And even if I were to do that, I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a sponsor for someone who speaks ill of me. I think my actions and performance speaks for me. I do my job very well, whether it was as a player, or now as the chief national coach.”

The merits of Gutta’s circumstances cannot be denied.

Will the concerned authorities act now and ensure that future decisions are not prejudiced?

Or is that more than sports lovers can hope for in the morass that is Indian sports administration?

The questions remain.

The answers are staring us in the face.




Has Indian men’s badminton started to peak and prosper?

Kidambi Srikanth,Parupalli Kashyap,Haseena Sunil Kumar Prannoy,Ajay Jayaram,Sai Praneeth Bhamidipati, Anand Pawar,Rajah Menuri Venkata Gurusaidutt,Manu Attri, B. Sumeeth Reddy, Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar.

Who are these guys, really?

These young stalwarts are the modern face of Indian men’s badminton making the country proud in Badminton World Federation (BWF) competitions across the globe.

These are the players ranked in the top 100 of men’s singles and doubles by the BWF.

Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap are at the forefront of this brigade.

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Badminton. This...

Pictograms of Olympic sports – Badminton. This is unofficial sample picture. Images of official Olympic pictograms for 1948 Summer Olympics and all Summer Olympics since 1964 can be found in corresponding Official Reports. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: kashyap is a indian badminton player

English: kashyap is a indian badminton player (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kashyap has been around for a while and captured gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow. He was also a quarter-finalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He is ranked 10 in the world.

Kidambi Srikanth is the highest ranked Indian currently No.3 in the world. He clinched the 2014 China Open Super Series Premier beating Lin Dan in the final. He is the first Indian male to win a Super Series Premier title.

Haseena Sunil Kumar Prannoy is ranked 12th in the World and had his best year by far in 2014. He was a semi-finalist at India Open Grand Prix Gold,Bitburger Open Grand Prix Gold,Macau Open Grand Prix Gold and the Sri Lanka Open International Badminton Challenge in Colombo. He was also a finalist at the Vietnam Open Grand Prix crowning it with a tournament win at the Indonesia Open Grand Prix Gold.

Ajay Jayaram is next on the list at 32 and his best is the 2014 Dutch Open Grand Prix.

Following closely at No. 33 is B. Sai Praneeth whose exploits at the US Open last week catapulted him to the limelight.

RMV Guru Saidutt and Anand Pawar at 44 and 55  round up the Indian men in the top 100.

Pairs Manu Attri & B. Sumeeth Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra & Akshay Dewalkar are ranked 24 and 33 in men’s doubles respectively.

Name Date Rank Points
K Srikkanth 06/26/14 29 38797
K Srikkanth 06/25/15 3 69164
PARUPALLI Kashyap 06/26/14 20 42263
PARUPALLI Kashyap 06/25/15 10 56541
H. S. Prannoy 06/26/14 55 26610
H. S. Prannoy 06/25/15 12 49100
Ajay JAYARAM 06/26/14 67 22120
Ajay JAYARAM 06/25/15 32 33460
B. Sai Praneeth 06/26/14 74 20430
B. Sai Praneeth 06/25/15 33 32730
R. M. V. Gurusaidutt 06/26/14 35 33805
R. M. V. Gurusaidutt 06/25/15 44 26530
Anand PAWAR 06/26/14 42 29460
Anand PAWAR 06/25/15 55 24670

Bubble chart

Tournaments organised by the BWF are ranked in the following order:

World Ranking Points Table

Rounds BWF Events(BWF World WCH & OG) BWF Superseries Finals &Premier Super series Grand Prix Gold Grand Prix Intl Challenge Intl Series Future Series
Runner up

*At the Olympic Games 3rd place will receive 9200 points. Fourth place will receive 8400 points.


Only the best 10 results are considered while aggregating points.

Women players such as Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and even Jwala Gutta have monopolized the headlines with their stunning deeds. But Force Men will not be left behind.

Indian badminton fans can look forward to having another All-England champion , if not, a numero uno from amongst the above.

Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Saina Nehwal: What she said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Saina Nehwal makes no song-and-dance about her name or her (almost) namesake—merely her achievements.

What she said:

“If you’re starting your career and you have a name that is similar to a celebrity, it also gives you an added advantage.”

Saina Nehwal is not in the shadows anymore—certainly not Sania Mirza’s.

Speaking to Mint Indulge, the No.1 Indian woman badminton player said:

“For me, badminton is my love. And I was persuaded by my parents to follow it when I was quite young, say around eight years old. I have still not taken it as a profession, rather I take it as my duty and I enjoy it a lot. I have also been helped by the sacrifices that my family has made, the hard work of the coaches I worked with, the support of the financiers, love of the fellow countrymen and, of course, blessings of the almighty. But my parents are the producers of this badminton project. That is why I am here in badminton. Also, I love badminton because it does not know the boundaries of caste, creed, religion and nationality.”

Sania Mirza at the 2009 US Open

Sania Mirza at the 2009 US Open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About the media and Indian public initially confusing her with Sania Mirza, Indian women’s tennis icon, Nehwal responded:

“I think hard work pays. If you’re starting your career and you have a name that is similar to a celebrity, it also gives you an added advantage. She was an established player when I started and I might actually have been helped by her name in the past. Now that I too am doing some good work, people know me as Saina Nehwal and it feels good.”

What she really meant:

“What’s in a name? We’re both roses of Indian sport and how we arose. Who cares if I’m Sania Nehwal and she’s Saina Mirza? Besides, we’re both in the same racquet, aren’t we? They’re both racquet sports.”

What she definitely didn’t:

“Now if they’d only allow us badminton players to wear those cool skirts and tops like tennis players, I’d be a cool diva too.”

PV Sindhu: What she said, really meant and definitely didn’t

PV Sindhu

What she said:

“I’ll tell you when I do fall in love.”

PV Sindhu is the best thing to happen to Indian badminton since Saina Nehwal. She has two World Championship bronze medals to her name—a feat no other Indian shuttler has ever achieved. Is she the next big thing or the current big thing? Consistency will tell.

What she really meant:

“I have little time for anything outside badminton. Until then…”

What she definitely didn’t:

“We’ll have a small bio-pic produced when that happens with a theme song titled ‘Dil Yeh Shuttle Hai'”.


Parupalli Kashyap: Asthma, inhalers and Commonwealth gold

Parupalli Kashyap is the latest male star to bedazzle the Indian badminton circuit.

The Hyderabadi pulled off a minor miracle when he beat Singapore’s Derek Wong to clinch India’s first ever Commonwealth games gold medal in badminton in 32 years. Kashyap trains under Pulella Gopichand, a former All England champion, in his hometown.

Kashyap is in distinguished company. Prakash Padukone and Syed Modi are the only other Indians to have accomplished the said feat.

For the 27-year-old, public recognition may

English: kashyap is a indian badminton player

English: kashyap is a indian badminton player (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

have finally arrived. Indian Men’s badminton, in recent times, has been overshadowed by the exploits of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Jwala Gutta, their female counterparts.

Kashyap might just be the man to continue Gopichand’s legacy.

The Padma Bhushan awardee won the All England championship in 2001 but knee injuries cut short his promising career in its prime.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Kashyap reached the quarter-finals only to lose to top seed Lee Chong Wei.

Very few are aware that Kashyap is asthmatic.

Morten Frost of Denmark was another badminton great who suffered from asthma.

The lanky Indian athlete has to renew his TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) certificate from WADA every year.

Kashyap was diagnosed with the chest ailment in 2005. It almost brought his fledgling career to a standstill.

But the fighter in Kashyap came to the fore.

He says:

“It was a big shock for me. Many thought my career was over. But I was determined to fight back and put in a lot of hard work to overcome the disorder.”

He adds:

“It used to be very, very bad. I used to be sick at every tournament. I had to keep taking antibiotics and I would feel ill all the time.”

Once his condition was diagnosed, the shuttler went from strength to strength.

Kashyap says:

“Before 2005, nobody told me my condition was asthma. But once it was diagnosed and I started the right medication, I grew quickly in strength. I could eat well and I got healthy. I’m still asthmatic and I take medication once a day, but I’m fine otherwise.”

Kashyap carries an inhaler (or two) on court for every game and does extra endurance work.

On asthmatics and sport:

“Basically, asthmatics have to keep on working on endurance. You can’t build it up and stop working on it for a while, like the others. My endurance goes down if I don’t work on it. So I do endurance workouts even during tournaments, when other players don’t.”

At the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth games, Kashyap had clinched bronze defeating compatriot Chetan Anand, perhaps now better known as Jwala Gutta’s ex.

Kashyap was awarded the Arjuna award in 2012.

A little-known fact  on Indian men’s badminton: India has more players in the top 100 than any other nation.

Kashyap says:

“That’s a great achievement. But if you want to consistently be in the top 10 or have a number of players winning big titles that is tougher. We have very good bench strength now in men’s singles especially. But going ahead and winning big titles, you need a ten-fold investment.”

Kashyap believes that if he works hard enough he can meet the levels of Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, the current top two in the game.

Kashyap’s journey to the top has just begun. Let us hope for many more medals from the young man lighting up an Indian future in the Chinese-dominated sport.

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