Ashwini in a spot after Jwala exit

Star doubles player Jwala Gutta’s has withdrawn from the Asian Games following a knee sprain, putting her doubles partner Ashwini Ponnappa in a spot of bother.

Ashwini won’t even be having her mixed doubles partner Tarun Kona in Incheon after he was dropped from the revised Asian Games contingent. She may partner P V Sindhu in doubles but the picture is unclear at the moment.

Jwala, who had been taping her troublesome right knee in tournaments, said she aggravated her injury while training on Monday. “My physio advised me two weeks’ rest. I had sprained my knee long time back but on Monday I aggravated it while training. I had it taped even during the Thomas and Uber Cup and Commonwealth Games,” Jwala told Deccan Herald.

“It was a hard decision but next two years are very important for me. I can’t afford to worsen my injury. I spoke to Ashwini before my doctors and she understood.  I had to make this decision. The Asian Games is very important to me but I have a lot of tournaments coming up. The European circuit will be the next for me. I just wanted to give my knee full rest, so I decided to pull out.”

Meanwhile, in the absence of her partners, Ashwini has been left in the lurch. “I knew about Jwala’s injury. You can’t do much there. Not having Jwala was a setback. But I thought I will at least play in the mixed doubles. But it was so unfortunate Tarun was dropped from the contigent. I am not sure how will I go about that. I haven’t spoken to anyone as of now but at the moment I want to take one thing at a time,” said Ashwini.
A Badminton Association of India (BAI) official said: “They (Sports Ministry) wanted to prune down the list and had asked us for the possibilities of players winning medals etc. We gave them some names in case they wanted to reduce the numbers. There is no mixed doubles in team championship so that will not be an issue. The number is good enough. Ashwini can play with Pradnya Gadre (in doubles) but ultimately it is up to the coach.”

However, a tandem of Ashwini and Pradnya is unlikely after the two separated following a brief stint as doubles partners. Instead, Ashwini didn’t rule out the possibility of joining hands with Sindhu. “The final decision should be in the interest of the team. So I am just looking at the possibilities. I will be comfortable with Sindhu. She has a good smash and she has played in the doubles. She also played doubles in Thomas and Uber Cup recently.”

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