India’s best mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V. Diju may not be seen together in the near future after the latter decided to part ways and play with Aparna Balan in the ongoing Senior National badminton championships here.
Gutta and Diju, who became the country’s first pair in over two decades to win an international mixed doubles title when they lifted the Jakarta Open trophy in 2005, were expected to play together in the Nationals and their employers — Petroleum Sports Promotion Board — had also given their entry accordingly.
But on Monday, PSPB manager Tilak Raj gave a written request to chief referee Punnaiah Choudhary to allow Diju to team up with Balan of Kerala. Raj later told HT that it was the decision of the players.
Diju admitted that he opted to play with Balan as he had been training with the Kerala youngster for the last few months.
However, sources said Diju’s decision to part ways with Jwala had a lot to do with the latter’s continuous absence from the “Elite Camp” organised by the Badminton Association of India.
The apex body had made it clear that it would not support the players who did not attend these camps.
“Not only that, the campers have been told not to team up with those who do not attend the camps and that is where the entire problem started,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.
Jwala, on her part, has been at loggerheads with national coach Pullela Gopichand and has made it clear that she was not interested in attending these camps.
When quizzed, whether the reported dictum of the BAI was responsible for his decision, Diju replied in the negative. “My combination with Balan is working very well and I felt we had a better chance of winning the title.”
But the shuttler contradicted himself when he admitted that he would partner Jwala the minute she decides to attend the camp.
Jwala was philosophical in her reaction to the entire episode saying that she was helpless if Diju did not want to play with her. “We had been doing well in the last one year and had a realistic chance to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. But if he does not want to play with me what can I do.”
It may be recalled that the pair had played an important role in helping India win the bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and had also given a good account at the World Championships in Madrid last year.