The recent success of India shuttlers in different BWF tournaments have made badminton the prime sport for medals for India at the 2018 Asian Games. Winning a commendable six medals in at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Indian badminton team took the spotlight in the sports news all over the world. The Indian badminton circuit is comprised of stars like Kidambi Srikanth, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal who have brought honours to the country in different competitions throughout the world.
Youngsters in the squad
The badminton squad for the 2018 Asian Games was picked late last month. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) picked a strong 20-player squad for the games.
The squad consists of six youngsters as well. These are Gayatri Gopichand, daughter of national coach Pullela Gopichand, Ashmita Chaliha, Sai Uttejitha Rao, Akarshi Kashyap, Rutuparna Panda, Aarthi Sara Sunil and Sourabh Verma. Verma has been in the badminton news since he has won the 2016 Chinese Taipei Masters.
BAI had organized two tournaments in Bengaluru and Hyderabad to pick the squad for the games.
Verma won the tournament in Bengaluru and reached the final at Hyderabad. He took the sole remaining men’s singles spot after the selections of Srikanth, HS Prannoy, Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma.
BAI picked four youngsters for women’s singles based on the performances in the selection tournaments. Uttejitha won the tournament in Bangalore whereas Ashmita won the one in Hyderabad. Both Gayathri and Kashyap reached the semifinals in Hyderabad. Rituparna Das who reached the final in Bengaluru was the notable exclusion.
The men’s doubles category will be led by Commonwealth Games silver medallist pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will be the second pair.
Ashwini Ponappa and N. Sikki Reddy will lead India’s challenge in the women’s doubles category. They will be backed up by Rutuparna Panda and Arathi Sara Sunil.
Senior mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy were also selected in the squad while Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponappa will be the backup.
Immediately following the squad announcement, doubles shuttler Aparna Balan moved a petition in the Kerala High Court challenging her omission from the squad.
Balan made conflict of interest charges against national coach Pullela Gopichand whose daughter Gayathri was selected along with Aakarshi Kashyap, another teenage singles player.
Selectors and BAI officials were quick to remove any doubts regarding nepotism at play and said they selected the squad on the basis of form and long term interests of the nation.