Carolina Marin, Saina Nehwal, HS Prannoy slam BWF over scheduling woes
Saina insists on making badminton like tennis, where there would be 4-5 Grand Slams with big money and coverage
The Badminton World Federation’s revamped calendar for 2018 has drawn flak from several corners with present and former players expressing their displeasure with the scheduling which they believe would leave no room for recovery from injuries or train ahead of major events. Indian icon Saina Nehwal also made a suggestion, stating that one could have 4-5 Grand Slams in a year with big money and coverage if the BWF is planning to make badminton like tennis
With the Commonwealth and Asian Games being two major tournaments besides a series of Super Series events, the All England Championships and World Championships, the 2018 calendar already looked tight and the sport’s governing body’s mandatory rule for top shuttlers has made the case even tougher for them, especially for Asian players. BWF has made it compulsory for the world's top 15 players in the singles events and top 10 pairs in the doubles disciplines to play a minimum of 12 tournaments or face a penalty.
Days after legends Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand have slammed of the BWF’s ‘crammed’ scheduling, top shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, Carolina Marin, Sung Ji-Hung and H.S. Prannoy have opined the same saying that the decision has put them in a difficult situation in planning the year ahead.
“Looking at 2018, the way BWF has changed the season I would say that it’s not right for top players. It’s too crammed. Personally, for me, I am a player who cannot play back-to-back tournaments, I definitely need a lot of time before big events to get my best out. So I don’t want to go into a tournament just to participate and not win,” said Saina on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi on Wednesday.
“I think if we want to make badminton like tennis, then we should have 4-5 Grand Slam-like tournaments, huge ones with big money. If I would have been the president of BWF, then I would have made it five big tournaments, big money, big coverage, and you have tournaments like CWG, Asian Games, Superseries Finals and that’s what tennis does and rest of the events follows,” added the former World no. 1, who won a World Championship bronze after recovering from a knee injury.
Though Marin will have some relaxed time in between her tournaments with no CWG and Asiad, the reigning Olympic champion from Spain joined the bandwagon seconding Saina's views
“I totally agree with what Saina said. It’s going to be a crazy 2018,” Marin told this correspondent.
“With so many tournaments, it’s going to be really tough in order to recover from tough matches. But we have to see how it turns out. But our focus is to play. Let’s see if we have to trim down some tournaments. After PBL, we have three tournaments in a row and maybe some players may not play all of them,” added the 24-year-old.
Korean Sung Ji-Hung though struggled with words to express her unhappiness with the scheduling, but said, “It’s going to be hectic but players will have to cope up with the new calendar.”
“This year also we had a lot of tournaments and we are managing with the calendar. But next year we have the Asian Games, which will be important for many players. So, they need to decide on tournaments smartly.”
Meanwhile, promising H.S. Prannoy said that a series of tournaments is taking a toll on the fitness of the players over the years. And BWF’s new decision will be even tougher for the players. “I want to see the Superseries Finals happening a bit earlier. If we have it one month earlier, we can do the training a bit slower. It shouldn’t be like you come back from tournaments and you are again going 100 percent. At least you can start from 40-50 percent, then gain pace. That takes a toll on your body,” said the national champion.
With the CWG, Asian Games and World Championship all in the same year, it will be interesting to see how the players cope with the challenge not only from their opponents but from the tight scheduling which is their major worry, at least for now.