CWG badminton: Jwala, Ashwini hope their feat will make doubles popular

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NEW DELHI - Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who Thursday created history becoming the first Indian badminton pair to win a gold at the Commonwealth Games, hoped the event will be taken seriously after their feat.

The Indians, ranked 19th, shocked the top seeds and 10th-ranked Singaporeans Yao Lei and Sari Shinta Mulia 21-16, 21-19.

Gutta and Ponnappa have been creating waves on the international circuit ever since they teamed up a year-and-a-half ago.

“It is a very emotional moment for us. It is unbelievable.” Jwala said. “I rarely cry, but today I could not control myself. I think it was something pending for long,” she said.

“It will take some time for the feeling to sink in. I think we are the world’s best attacking pair and Ashwini is the hardest hitter of the shuttle. We can achieve a lot.

“I think we have been doing well in doubles for quite some time. I have had good performances in mixed doubles with Viju. Our men’s doubles pair have also done vey well and today we won this gold in the women’s doubles.

“If the doubles pair lose any match, we get the flak. Like it happened in the team event final when me and Diju lost to the Malaysian pair and people said we failed miserably. It was harsh on us. We beat England 3-0 in the semifinals the previous day and it was our best perfromance, so please do not put the doubles players down if they lose one match,” Jwala said.

“We do not have any sponsors. We hope people will come forward after this victory. Doubles matches are more exciting to watch than singles.”

Asked about their performance in the final, Jwala said: “It was not an easy match. We had to fight it out. I kept on telling Aswhini to calm herself and not get carried away by the crowd. She tends to get overexcited and it was a big stage.”

“We just focussed on one point at a time. Even at 19-18 in the second game when I missed an easy tap we were focussing on the next point and not on winning the match.”

Ashwini, 21, a product of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, was equally elated.

“It is a great feeling for me. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy and not take any pressure.”

Asked from where she gets the punch for her deadly smashes despite being lean, Ashwini said: “My dad is a sportsperson and he is muscular, I guess I have got the power from him.”

“Jwala is the senior pro and she has been very supportive. It looks like she is angry on the court, but it’s not like that. Even if I make a mistake, she will encourage me.

Asked to comment on the Singaporean pair targetting her, Ashwini said: “We played them twice before. After I figured out that they were attacking me, I was alert.”

At 18-all in the second game, the Singaporean pair was upset as Shinta claimed she was not ready to receive Jwala’s service. But the umpire awarded the point to India, allowing them to nose ahead 19-18.

Jwala said it was the correct decision by the umpires. “The decision was fair. She put her hand up and then signalled she was ready and then I served. If you saw the screen she even stepped back to be ready for the serve.”

Filed under: Badminton, Commonwealth Games

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