Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy pull out of Thomas and Uber Cup
Top doubles specialists Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy pulled out of the Thomas and Uber Cup as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Sunday gave the green signal for the resumption of a full-fledged national badminton coaching camp in Hyderabad that will be attended by 26 players.
Rankireddy had tested positive for Covid-19 more than a week ago and will get retested on Monday. “I will take a call depending on the test results. I am doing well, no symptoms as such,” the 20-year-old said from Amalapuram.
Shetty added that though the world No.10 men’s doubles pair have sent their entries for the following Denmark Open I and II (both in October), they will take a call on participation later on. “It all depends on Satwik’s (test) result. We withdrew keeping in mind that and precautionary reasons. If Satwik tests negative, we will likely join the camp on September 15. We will then speak to our coaches and physios and decide upon participation in Denmark Open I and II. If he tests positive again, it is a longer wait,” added Shetty.
Proposed by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and chief national coach Pullella Gopichand, the September 7-27 camp will be held at the SAI-Gopichand Badminton Academy to prepare for Thomas and Uber Cup that will be held from October 3-11 in Aarhus, Denmark. The final team selection will take place on September 17.
The Thomas (for men) and Uber (women) Cup is expected to restart the international calendar, shut since the All England Open in March. World champion PV Sindhu had already pulled out citing personal reasons but her training will continue separately and as per schedule at the academy.
SAI held a meeting with all stakeholders on August 27, requesting a proposal on the camp. The said proposal was received on Saturday following which another meeting was held on Sunday. “I am very happy that SAI and BAI have been proactive in ensuring that sporting activities can start early. I am happy this camp is starting because the Thomas and Uber Cup is an important tournament and I hope we get some good results there,” Gopichand said.
The initial proposal, received by SAI, stated that players would reside in a hotel. However, after discussion it was decided that they will play and be accommodated at the Gopichand academy to ensure greater safety amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Initially only eight elite players—PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, N Sikki Reddy, Ashwini Ponnappa, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy—were selected to train earlier in August. Only Sindhu, Srikanth, Sai and Sikki joined while Saina trained in a separate facility with husband Parupalli Kashyap in Hyderabad. The other three chose to stay in their respective hometowns and decided to join the camp later.
Seven coaches, four support staff and three sparring partners will be part of the camp. “I am happy to be back to the camp and start competing again,” said Srikanth.
All players, coaches and support staff will have to undergo a mandatory RT-PCR test before travelling to Hyderabad and would only be allowed in the academy if they produce a Covid-19 negative certificate. Once at the academy, they will be isolated and tested again on the sixth day of quarantine and would only be allowed on the field of play after clearing a second test.
“Looking at the competition, it is good to have team practice and members of other states present at the camp as we missed training in a group which motivates players to do better,” said Sikki. “This also brings in added responsibilities for everyone and we have to be really careful now and make sure everyone follows all protocols that have been put in place because it’s not just you but others around you as well.”
SAI assistant director Monika, who was involved in setting up protocols at SAI Bengaluru, is being sent to Hyderabad “to educate the shuttlers and staff on the processes to be followed and necessary precautions” to be taken.
“With most players out of touch and away from active badminton for more than five months now, it was important to conduct a national camp ahead of the Thomas and Uber Cup. Hence it was decided to go ahead with the preparatory camp,” BAI secretary general Ajay Singhania said. “We are grateful to SAI for helping with the camp and all the support in creating a safe and secure environment for the players and support staff. This camp will give our shuttlers much-needed time to get back the required momentum and prepare themselves ahead of the final selection.”
List of 26 national campers:
Men (for Thomas Cup): B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, Parupalli Kashyap, Lakshya Sen, Subhankar Dey, Manu Attri, B Sumeeth Reddy, Dhruv Kapila, MR Arjun, Krishna Prasad Garga, Siril Verma, Ansal Yadav, Kartikey Gulshan Kumar
Women (for Uber Cup): Saina Nehwal, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansode, Ashmita Chaliha, Ira Sharma, Ashwini Ponnappa, N Sikki Reddy, Sanjana Santosh, Pooja Dandoo, Jakkampudi Meghna, Poorvisha S Ram, Ashwini Bhatt, Shikha Gautam.