Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, India’s greatest women’s doubles pair in badminton, have parted ways on court.
In fact, the decision may have been a long time coming. According to a report in ‘The Hindu’, Jwala revealed that the decision was taken before the 2016 Rio Olympics. This was due to the fact that both athletes felt that “things were not going as well as they wanted them to.”
Incidentally, Jwala won’t be continuing in women’s doubles either, focusing only on mixed doubles from now, according to an ESPN report.
The Gutta-Ponnappa pair had been pegged as medal hopes for India in the Rio 2016 Olympics due to their strong record. Unfortunately, they even failed to make it past the group stage.
“I realized that Ashwini and I weren’t growing as a pair. I felt that we were stagnating. Whenever I expected a lot, the results were not coming. So I thought, ‘why don’t I let her play with someone else?’ It was a very difficult decision to make, but one that had to be made.” Gutta was quoted as saying by ESPN. In the same report Ashwini was quoted as saying, “Partnerships take time to develop. Jwala had tons of experience. She shouldered the responsibility really well. And then we just clicked.”
Both players have insisted that the decision was mutual and that they have parted on good terms.
“It was not a difficult decision since it was on the cards. It is like a bad marriage which cannot continue,” Jwala told The Hindu. Ashwini added, “I don’t see it as a painful decision. For, we have had our share of success at the highest level. We have to move on. It is as simple as that.”
Jwala and Ashwini enjoyed a fruitful partnership and have won several titles together. This included international as well as in multi-sport events for India. The pair have consistently been ranked in the top 10 or 20 in the BWF rankings.
Among their accomplishments, the duo notched up gold and silver at the Commonwealth Games, a record bronze at the World Championships and victories at the Uber Cup and more recently the South Asian Games.
Jwala will now play mixed doubles with Manu Attri, while Ashwini will continue her women’s doubles career, partnering Sikki Reddy, continues the ESPN report.
“I am only training in mixed doubles with Manu Attri and never know whether I will play women’s doubles again,” Jwala told The Hindu. “I am keen to play both women’s doubles (with Sikki Reddy) and mixed doubles (with Nandagopal), Ashwini said.