Ashwini Ponnappa and other World Championships-bound doubles stars waiting for visa
As India gears up to send its largest contingent to the Badminton World Championships, scheduled to begin in Glasgow, Scotland on August 21, its doubles stars are still in the dark about when they will be granted the UK visa. About 10 of the World Championships-bound shuttlers from the country, including veteran Ashwini Ponnappa and her women’s doubles partner N Sikki Reddy, are still waiting for their visas with just 10 days to go for the prestigious global event to begin.
This came to light on Friday evening when rising men’s doubles star Chirag Shetty appealed for help on Twitter. The 20-year-old Shetty entreated the honourable minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and the honourable minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel to ensure that they get visas on August 17 as they depart for Scotland the day after.
Another talented doubles star, Shlok Ramchandran also made the same tweet to Swaraj and Goel, requesting them to intervene in this matter.
Shetty upbeat about his team’s chances at Worlds
Shetty, who is now part of the India No. 2 men’s doubles pair alongside Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, told Sportskeeda that 10 doubles shuttlers had applied together for the UK visa on August 2 but have been left in the lurch ever since.
This is the first time that the young team has secured the much-coveted berth at the World Championships. It would be a shame if they are deprived of this grand opportunity to play because of visa issues.
The Indians have a tough Japanese test in the first round. Hiroyuki Endo, who has teamed up with Yuta Watanabe, is a three-time All England Championships runner-up and boasts of vast experience in doubles.
Yet, Shetty is upbeat about giving their all and promises to aim for the biggest win of their fledgling careers.
“We’re really excited since it will be our first time at the World Championships,” Shetty told Sportskeeda.
“We have a difficult draw, so our aim is to gain exposure and we will try to give our best. If we can win, it will be a great boost for us and probably the biggest win of our career,” he added.
Shetty and Rankireddy have made rapid strides on the BWF circuit in the last few months and even rose to the India No. 1 position for a brief period last month. The pair, who is touted to be a world-beater, has already given ample example of their brilliance.
They were crowned the Vietnam International Challenge champions this year to add to the success they achieved at the Mauritius International, the India International Series, the India International Challenge and the Bangladesh International Challenge last year.