The tiff between the Sports ministry and India's top women's doubles badminton pair Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta is getting more severe with every passing day, and this time, Ashwini has gone on to say that the ministry is just not paying heed to their plea.
The Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme is the need of the hour for women's badminton doubles, and the shuttlers have been mentioning the same for days. They brought it up even before their historic Canada Open win on 29 June.
The Sports Ministry have currently excluded badminton doubles from the TOP scheme, which will fund the country's leading medal hopefuls at the 2016 Olympics.
"We did write to the ministry when the TOP (Target Olympic Podium) plan came up but after that we have been voicing our opinion to the media. I don't think the ministry is getting the right advice (over the TOP plan)," Ashwini, 25, told PTI.
"They are supporting four singles players [P. Kashyap, K. Srikanth, H. S. Prannoy and Guru Saidutt] for Rio when only two can qualify for the Olympics. Only two (in singles) have sure shot at qualification. They don't want to support doubles players who had qualified for the last Olympics. They are taking two extra players who can't qualify whereas we can win a medal," she emphasized.
According to an official press release, the government has approved an amount of Rs 28.10 lakhs from the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) for the four shuttlers towards gym equipment, Rs 40,000 per month for one physiotherapist and Rs 20,000 per month for a masseur.
In addition, Rs 30,000 has been approved for the boarding and lodging of the physiotherapist and masseur, it said.
A visibly disappointed Ashwini went on to say that Jwala and herself are on the same page when it comes to having their demands fulfilled by the Government of India. The duo had qualified for the London 2012 Olympics, but their performance wasn't up to the mark in the mega event.
However, they are looking to make a strong statement in the Rio Olympics next year, and Ashwini requests the Government to give a "fair treatment" to them, as most of the countries do.
"I do share the same sentiments (on lack of support for doubles players) as Jwala. She is very vocal. The reason why other countries are doing well is they give fair treatment to all," Ashwini continued.
"England's doubles players are doing well. Denmark has an all-round approach except women's singles. They all have coaches for mixed doubles too other than men's and women's doubles. Japan has 5-6 pairs, Korea, China, Indonesia have 5-6 pairs."
Ashwini and Jwala, currently ranked 13 in the world, are now looking forward to breaking into the top ten while qualifying for next year's Olympics.
"For doubles, the top 16 pairs will qualify and we have to be in the top 13. Ideally we want to be in the top ten.
"The qualifying process started this May and ends next May. There are quite a few tournaments (left to qualify) but until the last moment anything can happen. It's still a long way to go," added the Bengaluru girl.
"When we qualified for the Olympics the last time (2012, London), we had to wait till the Indian open and had we lost in the quarters we would not have qualified."
The duo are now looking forward to bagging a medal in the World Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia, next month.