Indian shuttler Jwala Gutta has come down heavily on the Indian government, urging the "people who are in power and are responsible" to wake up and support the badminton doubles players.
Jwala, 31, paired up with Ashwini Ponnappa to upstage the top-seeded Dutch pair of Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek to clinch the Canada Open women's doubles title last week. It was also their first title after the duo parted ways following the end of 2012 London Olympics.
The two are now looking forward to a medal at the Rio Olympics next year, and Jwala has urged the government to support them in their endeavour to achieve that target.
"We need all the support that top players need. I think what the singles players are getting, if we get that kind of a support, I think Ashwini and me can win a medal at the Olympics, definitely. It will be great," Jwala told PTI after her arrival from Calgary, Canada.
"At least now, if people who are responsible wake up. I will be really happy."
Jwala has also expressed her disappointment, saying that neither she nor Ashwini is aware of what the Govt of India are trying to do to help them improve their game – be it by providing good infrastructure to train or financial help.
"I don't know what to do really. I hope that they are at least thinking about it right now. This is what. Being a player, I am supposed to train and practice and only think about my game, what I have to develop and what weaknesses I have to take care of," Jwala added.
"Instead if I have to go to Delhi, spend a day, two or three, go behind them. This is what we should not be doing. We are the best bet in doubles for Olympics and we should be given all the support. At least after the Canadian Open, I hope people and the ministry of sports realise and support us. That's all we need."
Jwala went on to say that if the people in power don't help you in your endeavour to succeed, you will never get that impetus to perform. Thus the support of the Govt is so much essential for the shuttlers, especially the youngsters who are willing to take up badminton doubles.
"Lot of players are performing, including singles, only because of government funding. If government does not fund, lot of players will be lost. We are really depending on the government. This TOP [Target Olympic Podium] scheme is that extra boost," she said.
"Definitely [absence of government support would make it tough for the players to get into doubles]. After Ashwini and me, I don't see anybody else coming up. You can see it. I stopped playing mixed doubles and there is no result in mixed doubles. I was world number six. People who are talking about me and my performance and questioning my career and my achievements, where is the next mixed doubles pair, please show it to me. I would like to know," she blasted.
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.
A visibly disappointed Ashwini also went on to say that the ministry's move was "demoralising" for the shuttlers.
"We have proved that we have the potential to win medals but it is demoralising that the sports ministry has dropped doubles from their funding list for the Olympics," Ashwini commented.