India’s ace doubles shuttler Jwala Gutta is known to speak her mind and says how she never got the attention despite being the top doubles player in the country.
In an exclusive interview to The Indian Express, Gutta says it was she who set the benchmark for doubles badminton but sadly in India the singles players and events get more attention.
“I wouldn’t say there’s anything inherently lacking in speed and skills. You can always develop it. It’s not like the Chinese or Koreans can play doubles since the day they were born. That’s the kind of encouragement and treatment they got in their country. They never thought twice before picking doubles. Sadly in India. Now I was World No 6. If there was a world No 6 in singles, she or he would have been taken care of completely and pushed to No 1,” she told the Indian Express.
When asked about the fall-out with Pullela Gopichand, she said the star badminton coach and former All-England champion never encouraged nor worked on how to improve her game.
“I have no idea. I was just a player. How does it matter where I practice? Being a chief coach, he should only be proud, and encourage me because I am No. 1. I only blame him because he was the chief coach, he has played at that level.
“I was targeted from Day 1. In 2006, I came back from CWG, it was our first achievement in mixed team event where we won bronze after Diju and me had beaten World No 5 in team championships and that’s how we won the medal. I come back and I’m thrown out of the team,” Gutta said.
Elaborating a bit further, Gutta adds that Gopichand was never irritating but he definitely let her down. But she was quick to give Gopichand credit for his efforts in helping getting singles medals for the country.
“I wouldn’t say irritating. When he came back from winning All England I went to the airport. I was amongst that crowd, and we were crying because we were the happiest. We thought now he will encourage us, now he will give us what he probably did not have.
“I give Gopichand credit for what he’s done for the country, the singles medals he’s getting is for the country, so I’ll give him that credit. But I want support from him for doubles, I would only wish and expect support from him. I don’t know if he will. I’m not vindictive by nature. But I’ll be cautious and I will protect doubles players for sure,” Gutta also said.