Dean Schoppe has difficulty sighting the shuttle with one eye while Mathew Fogarty cannot boast of being anywhere near the average fitness mark to play on the badminton circuit. But then, 54 is not exactly an age to challenge young guns on the court.
Fogarty and Schoppe know that winning a match at the World Championships may not be possible anymore but insist that they came all the way to India from the United States with a purpose — that is to continue their fight for the "right to play" as stated in the Olympic charter.
Fogarty and Schoppe have been fighting against the United States Badminton Association (USBA) for their right to play in bigger events after being denied opportunity to play in the 2003 and 2005 Worlds despite qualifying for the same.
According to the Badminton World Federation rules, the national associations have to confirm the players’ entries after the apex body announces a list of qualifiers and so every player has to depend on the national body to participate in tournaments.
“We were never given a reason why we were not allowed. But that made us more determined to carry on," said Fogarty, after the pair lost to Korea's Gun Woo Cho and Yeon Seong Yoo in the first round.
"We came here because we qualified on the basis of our rankings and not through the back door. So why should we be stopped from playing," says Fogarty, who came out of retirement in 1997.
Fogarty represented USA in singles, doubles and mixed doubles till 1989 and admits that he had joined the USBA to contribute towards the promotion of the game. "But the politics of it all made me return to the circuit," he adds.
Schoppe insists that he is not an ideal partner for Fogarty, who still maintains better fitness levels but would continue to play with him till he finds a younger partner. The combination is currently ranked 135th in the world.