Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who were the most accomplished pair in Indian badminton, have decided to end their partnership.
After Saina Nehwal and before the rise of Rio silver medallist PV Sindhu, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were the most followed badminton stars in India. Both Jwala and Ashwini say the decision to part was mutual. The pair last represented India at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Together, the Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa pair won bronze medal in the 2011 World Championships in London , bronze in the 2014 Asia Championships, bronze in 2014 and 2016 Uber Cup, gold and bronze in 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Jwala Gutta, 33, has decided not to compete in the women’s category at all. She will be partnering Manu Attri only in the mixed doubles events.
The 27-year-old Ashwini, meanwhile, is expected to partner Sikki Reddy in the women’s doubles.
“I won’t be playing any more with Ashwini. I won’t be playing women’s doubles either. I am not at the stage of my career where I want to groom a junior,” Jwala told ESPN.in.
“Ashwini and I have had many good times and I would like to keep it like that,” she added.
Jwala said the decision was difficult but had to be made.
“I realised 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,” Jwala Gutta said.
Jwala added that mixed doubles, an event she specialised in the past with V Diju, was worth revisiting.
“I kind of missed playing mixed doubles. I’ve enjoyed my phase of playing women’s doubles. So why don’t I play mixed doubles again. I can develop a new facet of my game,” Gutta said.
Ashwini Ponnappa, meanwhile, said that she and her new partner will take time.
“Partnerships take time to develop. Jwala had tons of experience. She shouldered the responsibility really well. And then we just clicked. With Sikki again, I expect it will take a little time,” she said.