Ashwini Ponappa is expected to travel to Hyderabad around September 17, to resume training with partner Sikki Reddy as India’s Uber Cup team fleshes out in coming fortnight to mount a challenge on a medal at Aarhus, Denmark from October 3-11.
“Ashwini will join me on last 10 days, so we’ll be able to rediscover the combination rhythm,” Sikki said. Having tested negative on her second test last month, Sikki is grateful she’s back in training. “Very happy to be back and the training is awesome. Getting there, three more weeks I have to remain focused. I was the only doubles player around in the camp, so all corrections and attention was very good. Never got so much attention like this. Coaches have been working on me very well,” she added, determined to avoid earlier pitfalls in her game.
“Consistency is the key. Not making simple mistakes.The coaches were working mainly on improving the consistency,” she added.
With PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal settling into training slots at the Gopichand academy and Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod also in the camp, the Uber Cup challenge looks like coming together in the nick of time.
With Ashwini and Sikki getting to train together – the two were in Bangalore and Hyderabad respectively, India will field a full-strength squad.
India have China in their pool grouping, with a face-off assured.
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The Thomas Uber Cup camp meanwhile was cancelled on Thursday. The team was announced without an assessment by selectors, since a camp couldn’t be accommodated into the mandatory quarantine to meet the deadline.
“After a lot of deliberations and multi-level meetings with all stakeholders including Sports Authority of India, we have decided to cancel the camp. With the SOP implemented and quarantine procedures followed, there will not be enough time to conduct a camp and hence it was a decision taken in consultation with the five selectors and the National Coach. We have also selected a team that will be representing India at the Thomas & Uber Cup as well as the other two tournaments to be played in Denmark,” said Badminton Association of India (BAI) General Secretary Ajay Singhania.
A press statement from SAI noted: “A detailed SOP for the campers along with quarantine norms were discussed with all stakeholders and accepted by all. Due to paucity of time, it was decided that the players would report to the camp with a Covid negative test report and be in quarantine, to be tested for Covid again on the 6th day. SAI also posted an assistant director, who has helped in drawing up the Covid protocols in the Bengaluru centre where the hockey players are training, at the badminton academy to sensitise players about Covid protocols and quarantine norms. However, it has been learnt that owing to unwillingness of some campers to undergo the quarantine period, the camp which was to start on September 7, could not begin.”
Col. Dr Bibhu Kalyan Nayak, member of the committee that drafted Covid protocols for SAI and the Sports Science Consultant at the Sports Science Centre in Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, said, “All actions, decisions and policies being drawn out during the pandemic are guided by the principle of ensuring safety of players. To minimise the risk of transmission of the virus, especially where players are coming from different places and have been training at different locations, it is important to ensure that everyone is quarantined and a test is conducted thereafter. Our athletes are our national assets and their safety is of utmost importance. In these times ensuring safety and minimising risks at camps have to be based on the dual philosophy of self-protection by maintaining all protocols and solidarity to ensure others around are also safe, which is very important in team games. However, given the dynamic nature of the situation every policy is drawn up keeping the current scenario in mind and may evolve as the situation changes.”
CHANCE FOR YOUNGSTERS
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There are opportunities galore for the younger players selected to pitchfork themselves into limelight playing in badminton’s comeback meet. The third singles with Lakshya Sen and Subhankar Dey in men’s singles especially, and Aakarshi Kashyap and Malvika Bansod among women, especially will find themselves in the spotlight as India aim to make the most of a spurt of withdrawals gunning for a medal, though doubles is as yet low on preparation and personnel.
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy was felled by a Covid positive earlier (he’s due a second test soon) leaving Chirag Shetty with no reason to risk travelling for a scratch combine with the Olympics on the long horizon.
MR Arjun, Dhruv Kapila and Krishna Prasad Garaga are exciting new talents, and Thomas Cup offers them a good chance to nick an upset, though it’ll be upto the experienced pair of Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Attri to shoulder the responsibility.
In Thomas Cup, India has been placed in Group C with 2016 champions Denmark being their biggest competition, besides Germany and Algeria in the same group. In Uber Cup, India finds itself in Group D with the other teams being China, Germany and France. However, the 14-time champions China are still awaiting confirmation of their participation and all eyes are on whether the badminton powerhouse will field a full-strength team.
S Korea pulls out of TUC: Korean media
Sportsseoul.com have reported that Korea is likely to pull out of the Thomas Uber Cup, joining Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Australia in staying away from the tournament, according to Indonesian website Badminton Talk. Korea were seeded third in Uber Cup.
Sports Seoul Reporter Kim Kyung-moo, reporting in Korean for Sports Seoul quoted an official from the badminton association, saying, “Korea eventually gave up participating in the Thomas Uber Cup, which the World Badminton Federation (BWF) decided to enforce even in the corona 19 outbreak. It is scheduled to be finalized at the association’s board of directors on the 18th, but recently, at the meeting of the Performance Improvement Committee and the Presidents’ Council, we have decided not to participate in the Thomas Uber Cup.” A BWF confirmation is awaited.
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