In 2004, Pullela Gopichand and Jwala Gutta were a team. The two won the National Badminton Championship title in mixed doubles, but over the years the relationship has soured with Jwala often training her guns at the former All England champion, who is now the chief national coach.
Jwala, one of the most prominent names in the Indian doubles circuit, holds Gopichand responsible for a lot of opportunities she has lost out during her active badminton career.
“I hold him (Gopichand) responsible for the harassment I had to go through all these years. I am vocal and I have had to pay a huge price for that,” Jwala told India Today during an interaction where she also opened up on often being subject to racial remarks because of her facial appearance which she inherited from her mother, who is of Chinese descent.
“I acknowledge what he (Gopi) has achieved and I had expectations from him. Gopi knows my potential and what I was capable of. He was part of the establishment and he knew my potential, so it was quite natural for me to have expectations from him.
“If you notice, there were players from other states when Gopi used to play. So there was a time where top players used to come from different parts of the country. But for the last 10-12 years, only players from Hyderabad or Telugu players are in prominence. If a player is from one particular academy he will get recognition.
“If India wins a medal, it is because of Gopichand and if we don’t do well, then it is the system that is to be blamed,” Jwala, who paired up with Ashwini Ponappa in 2011 to win India’s maiden doubles medal at the World Championships, said.
Internal politics affecting foreign coaches, says Jwala
Jwala also pointed out reasons for the foreign coaches not staying back long enough to complete their tenures. “Why are foreign coaches not staying? There is internal politics and that is the reason why foreign coaches leave without completing their tenures. The reason is they don’t get the acknowledgement and feel disrespected, not just from the players but from the establishment, and I am an eyewitness to it.”
People have a lot of time to waste: Jwala on facing racism
With China being blamed for the origin and outbreak of Coronavirus, Jwala also had to deal with many trolls, for the simple reason that her mother is of Chinese descent. But, by her own admission, Jwala has become thick-skinned and knows how to deal with such persons.
Recently, the shuttler posted a tweet, which read ‘Boycott Chinese Products’ with a picture of Jwala over it. “I have grown up in a country where we are told that there is freedom of speech. I take it as a compliment now that I look different. I think l look Okay.
“People have a lot of time to waste on such things, calling someone ‘Chinese’. It was important to call out people like these. So it is my duty to teach these people a lesson and tell them that the power of anonymity has its consequences too,” Jwala said. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).