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Raw deal for Diju, Jwala

The Arjuna award continues to elude Indian badminton’s most accomplished doubles pair, V Diju and Jwala Gutta. The two, who have established themselves as world-beaters over the last two years, are yet to get any official recognition in India of their accomplishments at international events. Their names were not forwarded to the National Sports Awards panel by the Badminton Association of India.

V.Diju and Jwala Gutta: India's badminton heroes

V.Diju and Jwala Gutta: India's badminton heroes

No pair in Indian badminton history has performed close to Diju and Jwala. The two, having paired off in mid-2008, shot into the top-ten within a year, with wins over several top pairs, including world champions Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir in January 2009. The highlight of the year was their Chinese Taipei GP Gold win in August. In December 2009 they reached the final of the prestigious Super Series Masters in Kuala Lumpur, and ended the year at world No.7.

BAI President VK Verma told DNA that the association had withheld their names because they believed only one athlete from a sport would get a national award. “Since we had to forward Saina Nehwal’s name for the Khel Ratna, we didn’t forward Diju and Jwala’s names,” he said. “In terms of the purity of accomplishment, hers was higher.”

That was strange logic, for Verma need only have referred to last year’s awards when three athletes – boxers MC Marykom and Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar – shared the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. That Saina was nominated for the Khel Ratna certainly would not have affected Diju-Jwala’s chances of bagging the Arjuna award. One panellist told DNA that they were surprised Jwala and Diju had not been nominated. “Their names came up for discussion,” she told DNA. “But since the federation had not nominated them, we could not decide in their favour.”

Jwala, who has lately been in the news for reasons other than badminton, said she wasn’t surprised. “I didn’t apply for the Arjuna because I don’t think you should ask for recognition,” she said. “It’s a little demeaning. It’s up to the federation to nominate you. I don’t know why they didn’t forward our names. We ended 2009 as world No.7. Perhaps the BAI thinks that’s not good enough. Anyway, I’m indifferent to these things now.”

Diju, whose application was signed by national coach P Gopichand and forwarded to the BAI, was guarded in his reaction. “I was hoping we’d win it this time,” he admitted.

Jwala has been an outspoken critic of the BAI, and that is seen by observers as one of the reasons their names weren’t forwarded.

Ranking progression

Jan 2009: world No.38

April 2009: World No.35

May 2009: World No.10

July 2009: World No.9

December 2009: World No.7

April, 2010: World No.9

May 27, 2010: World No. 11

July 2010: World No.7

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