Jwala Gutta slams Indian federation and media for lack of support to doubles players
What’s the story?
With her Delhi Acers side already out of the race for the semifinals, Jwala Gutta slammed the media and the national federation for not giving due importance to doubles players and focusing more on the singles players such as PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. She called for consistency in the treatment that is meted out to both sets of players and said that the only reason for Indian doubles players performing inconsistently is that they do not receive adequate support.
“We, doubles players have no support system at all – whether in terms of sponsorships, nutrition or medical support. We haven’t performed as well as the singles players have but you have to analyse the situation objectively. Our singles players are doing well but they have been supported well,” said an irate Gutta.
She called out the media for not appreciating the effort put in by the doubles players. “When singles players lose you guys write that he or she ‘fought hard’ or ‘gave a tough fight’, but when we, doubles players lose, the headlines always use harsh words such as ‘defeated’ or ‘ousted’,” she said.
Gutta also fumed about the lack of bench strength in the doubles department, as only Ashwini Ponappa and herself have gone on to make a splash at the highest level.
“We don’t believe in a doubles culture and there are no junior players who are pushing for places at the top of the rankings. I played mixed doubles at the London Olympics in 2012 and after me, there was no one to take my place in Rio. Whose fault is it?” she asked.
“We (doubles players) are only remembered during team events, otherwise no one cares what happens to us. It is only when the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup come that we are shown some respect,” she said, claiming that the authorities are extremely partial in their treatment of players.
In case you didn’t know...
Jwala Gutta has always been in the thick of things when it comes to controversy. Her stand-off with P Gopichand is well known and she has never been shy of speaking her mind in the past. She is a four-time medalist at the Commonwealth Games, winning gold in 2010 in the women’s doubles. She has helped India win two bronze medals at the Uber Cup as well, and has broken into the top 10 of the world rankings in both the women's and mixed doubles.
The heart of the matter
During the press conference, she again raised the matter of the federation not providing a doubles coach in time for the Rio Olympics. While the singles players have a full-time coach, the doubles players got a foreign coach just nine months before the competition. She said that in such a situation, it is unfair to expect medals from the players.
Voicing his support for Gutta was Acers teammate Jan O Jorgensen, saying that singles players easily find support for themselves as they have compatriots who are close to them in the rankings, whereas the likes of Gutta and Ponappa have no Indians to contend with. He said that just nine months of preparation is too little too late as the Danish doubles teams have already started preparing for Tokyo.
It remains to be seen whether any action will be taken against Gutta or whether the authorities will act on the claims made by her. Meanwhile, the PBL will continue and the Acers will play their final league match in front of their home crowd on January 12.
Gutta has always been outspoken in the press and this episode was no different. She raised some pertinent issues, but as the case has always been, they are most likely to fall on deaf ears.