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Saina lashes out at BAI’s selection trial scheduling

One loss at India Open and BAI tries to pull me down, says former world No.1.
A file photo of Saina Nehwal.(AP)
Published on Apr 14, 2022 10:06 PM IST
By, New Delhi

Former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal lashed out at the Badminton Association of India (BAI) on Thursday, criticising the timing of selection trials that will be held at the IG Sports Complex here from April 15-20.

On April 1, BAI had announced that they would be holding trials for the Commonwealth Games (July 28-August 8 in Birmingham), Asian Games (September 10-25 in Hangzhou), and Thomas and Uber Cups (May 8-15 in Bangkok). The trials will also choose the core group for the 2024 Paris Games. Olympic bronze medallist Saina had opted out of the trials, citing a packed schedule.

“Surprised to see all the articles stating that I don’t want to defend my CWG title and my Asiad medal. I’m just not participating in the trials because I just got back from three weeks of Europe events and according to the schedule there’s Asian Championships (April 26-May 1 in Manila) in two weeks’ time,” tweeted the two-time CWG champion, tagging BAI, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and sports minister Anurag Thakur.

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“As a senior player to participate in back-to-back events non-stop is impossible and it’s risking injuries, such short notice is not possible. I’ve conveyed this to BAI but there has been no response from them. It seems like they’re happy to put me out of CWG and Asiad. I wish we had better understanding about how to manage a schedule and not announce events with 10 days’ notice. I’m world No. 23 currently and I almost beat the world No. 1 Akane (Yamaguchi) in All England. One loss at India Open and BAI tries to pull me down. Shocking.”

Saina has had a poor run due to injuries and niggles over the past few seasons. She suffered four second round defeats this year, losing to lower-ranked players. She had also skipped the BWF World Championships in Huelva last year.

Top Indian shuttlers PV Sindhu (women’s singles), Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy (men’s singles) and men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy were selected directly for the Asian and Commonwealth Games based on their high world ranking.

“We want to give each and every player enough chance to prove their abilities and this is the best possible format that BAI and the selection committee together came up with. The players ranked top-15 in the world have been selected directly as announced earlier,” BAI general secretary Sanjay Mishra said.

An exception was made for world No. 23 Prannoy who made the Swiss Open final in March. “Prannoy’s name has also been included as all selectors were of the unanimous view that he should be considered for direct selection as he has performed consistently at top events in the recent time and has beaten some top players,” said Mishra.

Other hopefuls will have to go through the trials which will be held in a league-cum-round robin format. Players in top-16 of singles and top-8 in doubles of national rankings, shuttlers between 16-50 in world rankings (as of March 29) and the core group selected in November 2019 will be eligible for the trials, which is supposed to select a total of 60 players out of 120. The national ranking list is based solely on performances in the ranking tournaments in Chennai and Hyderabad last December.

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