Doubles badminton player Prajakta Sawant is back at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA) in Hyderabad to attend the national camp. She returned to the PGBA early this week for the first time since dragging chief national coach Gopichand to court for “mental harassment and selection bias”.
Badminton Association of India vice-president (administration) TPS Puri confirmed on Friday that “Sawant joined the camp on January 7”.
Speaking to DNA from Hyderabad, after a training session at the PGBA, Sawant said, “I came here on January 7 after receiving an intimation from the Badminton Association of India at the start of this month. I have been training with Indonesian coach Edwin Iriawan.”
Asked how she felt returning to the academy where she was denied entry, the 20-year-old said, “I am OK with it. Some of the national players are not talking to me. Those who were friendly in the past are not close to me anymore. It looks a little awkward but I don’t mind it. Mentally, it is a little disturbing but I have to think of my badminton.”
Sawant is still without a partner. “It is very difficult to play without partners. Everyone is scared to partner me after the controversy. Even my mixed doubles partner Manu Atri refused to play with me. This has affected my performance. If one partner pairs up with me, he or she breaks up for the next tournament. This is really bad for Indian badminton,” Sawant said.
In last month’s Tata Open in Mumbai and the Syed Modi International in Lucknow, Sawant partnered Nigel D’Sa in mixed doubles and Trupti Murgunde in women’s doubles. She said she would partner Kerala’s Aarti Sarah Sunil in the upcoming national ranking tournaments in Bangalore and Hyderabad later this month.
“I am looking for a long-term partner,” she said about her goals. “For now, I have Jwala Gutta for the German Open (February 26 to March 3) and the All England Championships (March 5 to 10), subject to selection.
“I should gain confidence from Jwala. When I thought I wouldn’t find support, she stood by me.”
Sawant said she was looking at training at the Lal Bahadur Stadium in Hyderabad with Gutta. “But I have to take permission from the national camp. It is not confirmed yet.” Jwala, who has taken a break from the sport, trains at the LB stadium on her own and not at the PGBA.
Sawant stood by her decision to take Gopichand to court. “I don’t regret it,” she said. Gopichand is not in the country as he is accompanying the Indian shuttlers in the Korea Open which will be followed by next week’s Malaysia Open.