My sister is indisciplined: Open letter from Jwala Gutta's sister to SAI
Insi Gutta, makes her case for why her sister, Jwala, deserves better treatment from the government.
Mr. Ingeti Srinivas,
My sister is indisciplined.
Every day of my childhood, my sister and father would disappear early in the morning, even before sunrise. They would come back home at the end of the day and my sister would eat and go straight to bed because she would be tired from training and traveling almost about 80 kilometers a day. I really never understood what was going on or why my parents spent so much time with my sister. It was all eat, sleep and breathe badminton.
When my sister came home with her first Nationals title in 1996, I remember my parents being proud and the happiest they had ever been. It was then that I realized what badminton really meant to my family.
I am Insi, Jwala’s younger sister. I have watched my sister go through ups and downs over the years but I have never seen her lose hope. She gets up every day with the same motivation to only get better. I can’t remember my sister ever missing a single training session or tournament and if that means she is indisciplined, then yes she is.
There was this time when my sister came home with a Commonwealth Games medal in 2006. That medal she won was a first for our nation and it was a proud moment for all of us especially my family. The happiness we felt was almost inexplicable. However, that happiness did not last long. My sister was kicked out of the Indian team that year despite being the national champion in both, mixed doubles and women doubles. It was her fifth consecutive national title. She chose to continue training under S.M. Arif as opposed to training under the newly appointed chief national coach. If by choosing a coach that was better for her game means she is indisciplined, then yes she is.
Later in 2007, the qualifying year for the Beijing Olympics – things did not get any better. It began with all sorts of comments stating that my sister was too old to play or that she needed to make way for other junior players when she was only 24 years old. Thereafter, she was not allowed to participate in any tournaments for a period of three months (from May-July 2007) as there were endurance camps being conducted which she was required to be a part of. As a result of this, my sister lost her place in the world rankings thereby failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Here are few of her achievements for India:
2008: She won the first Grand Prix Gold for India in mixed doubles and women’s doubles (with Diju and Shruthi)
2009: She achieved a world ranking of 6 in Mixed doubles with her partner Diju, making her and Diju the first Indian mixed doubles pair to get the ranking, Moreover, the same year she and Diju became the first Indians to ever play the finals of a Super Series Finals event.
2010: She and Ashwini became the first women to win a Commonwealth Gold in Badminton .
2011: She and Ashwini became the first women ever to win a medal in world championship .
2012: She became the first and only Indian to qualify for two events at the London Olympics (with Diju and Ashwini Ponnappa)
2014: She won the Commonwealth Silver and Asian Badminton Championship Bronze (with Ashwini Ponnappa)
In order to achieve all these and more, my sister and my parents have made plenty of sacrifices in life. Despite all that my sister has achieved and done to place India on the world map of badminton, she has never been given her due respect. Till this day, not only does she continue to fight on court but also off it. If to fight for her right means she is indisciplined, then yes she is and will continue to be.
Lastly, as a sister to India’s number one and the best doubles player ever produced in the country and an avid badminton follower, there are a few questions I would like to pose to you.
Being the Director General of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) should you have not enquired from Jwala about the issue at hand prior to giving such a biased statement?
Provided that there has always been a fair selection of players, why is it that a men's singles player with almost no performance to show is included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) while India’s number one women’s doubles pairing has been excluded from the scheme? On what basis is this selection fair?
Furthermore, while only two men’s singles players can qualify for the Olympics, four men’s singles players have been selected for the TOP Scheme. If only two players can qualify, what is the reason for supporting the other two players in terms of funds for training? Why is that a women's doubles pair who has previously qualified for the London Olympics, in addition to having a better ranking and a greater chance in wining a medal, excluded from the list. Where is the fair treatment there?
There have also been many statements given to the media that Jwala and Ashwini are not medal prospects. Isn't it the purpose of the TOP Scheme to help players achieve that dream?
There have been former players who have come out publicly and said doubles needs to be given more attention, but sadly that isn’t the case.
“Must have separate camp for doubles” said by Prakash Padukone to PTI on 9 Dec 2014.
“Want More Importance to be Given to Doubles” said by Olympian Aparna Popat on 2 June 2015 to PTI.
"India needs a foreign specialist doubles coach", said Vimal Kumar to Firstpost on 9 June 2015
The chief national coach went on record to say there are doubles specialist coaches available at the national camps where as Vimal Kumar, coach in Bengaluru camp a month back gave a statement for a need of doubles specialist coach. Where are these doubles specialist coaches who intended to train players? The one foreign coach in Bengaluru is not exclusive to the national camp and is a part of the Prakash Padukone academy. So, where are these doubles specialist coaches, may I ask? And there are no physios or masseurs at the Bengaluru national camp. On what basis are you saying that the chief national coach has extended his support for doubles?
How can you as the Director General of SAI allow funding into a private academy? One would think that being the Director General you would want the existing SAI facilities to improve so as to provide all players including the ones who cannot afford it and also an equal opportunity to have an access to a world-class training center.
I hope you as a senior officer who is running the authority answer my questions publicly. This is not just for my sister but also for the future of Indian badminton. India will only become a badminton powerhouse if we treat ALL badminton players equally. If that can’t be done, I'm afraid to say that kids and their parents will not be motivated to take up badminton as a profession, let alone doubles as an event.
I will end by saying that my sister has brought laurels to our nation at the same time never compromised on her principles. She is the only doubles player to achieve so much without any role model. It's only because of the support of the Government she has come a long way and I believe that she will continue to do so and make us, as a nation proud.
Avid Badminton Lover and Proud sister of Jwala Gutta
For reference please check the below links where former player have asked for doubles specialist coach, camp and recognition.
Also, Jwala has always thanked govt for support.
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