From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.39 :: Sep. 26, 2009

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NEWSMAKERS

Historic victory

By winning the mixed doubles title in Chinese Taipei recently, V. Diju & Jwala Gutta became the first Indian pair to triumph in a Gold Grand Prix championship.

AP

Jwala Gutta and V. Diju... moment to cherish.

For Valiyaveetil Diju, 28, and Jwala Gutta, 25, it was a moment to cherish when they got the better of Indonesia’s Hendra Arpida Gunawan and Vita Marissa 24-22, 21-18 in the mixed doubles final of the Chinese Taipei Gold Grand Prix badminton championship recently. The victory meant the duo, ranked No. 7 in the world, had created history by becoming the first Indian pair to win a Gold Grand Prix title.

Diju and Jwala were clearly dejected by the way their entry was handled by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) for the prestigious Chinese Masters that preceded the Chinese Taipei event. There is a feeling that it was not just ‘communication gap, but a clear case of lethargy’ that saw the top Indian mixed doubles pair miss the event, which otherwise would have seen the two carry on the good work they have been doing. Diju and Jwala, incidentally, were the first Indian duo to enter the quarterfinals of the World Championship in Hyderabad recently.

“What is really disturbing is that all wrong things are happening to us at a time when we are peaking,” lamented Jwala, who along with her husband and India’s best ranked male player, Chetan Anand, had a running battle with the BAI sometime ago over the issue of taking part in the international circuit.

In fact, after a long gap, following their wonderful run in the European circuit late last year when they won the Bitburger Open and the Bulgarian Open titles, Diju and Jwala have made such a huge impact.

“Well, in a way, I do believe that our victory in Chinese Taipei is another reminder that we have the potential to break into the top five which is our immediate objective,” said Diju.

Earlier this year, Diju and Jwala showed the stuff they were made of by defeating the World No. 1, Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir, in the quarterfinals of the Korea Open. “Yes, definitely that was one victory which boosted our confidence a lot and we are a completely different combination now,” the two insist.

The left-handed Jwala and the right-handed Diju are big hitters. And what makes them a feared combination is Jwala’s incredible backhand at the net combined with Diju’s big smashes. “We should thank both Hadi Idris and Atik Jauhari (India’s coaches from Indonesia) and also Hadia Sugianto and Razif Sidek for giving many valuable tips during the long training sessions,” said Diju.

The Indian duo is not so naïve to think that the road ahead will be smooth. “Anyone can beat anyone in contemporary sport. We just can’t go by reputations. We have to keep working hard and improving,” said Diju and Jwala. The pair is hoping to break into the top five by the end of the year when the Super Series and the Masters are scheduled.

V.V. Subrahmanyam

* * *

Mayweather turns upon critics

Floyd Mayweather rounded on his detractors after beating Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez with a unanimous points decision on his return to boxing on September 19 in Las Vegas.

“I’m never going to win,” Mayweather, 32, told a post-fight news conference after dominating his first bout since coming out of a 21-month retirement. “When am I going to get my just due and people just acknowledge that Floyd Mayweather is a great fighter?”

The American has been criticised in the past for avoiding some dangerous opponents and he was loudly booed by a majority of the 13,000-strong crowd as he made his way to the ring in the wake of the hugely popular Marquez.

Although Marquez was a world champion at three different weights, there was criticism of Mayweather’s selection of a former featherweight champion, who had most recently fought at lightweight, as his opponent for a welterweight bout.

That criticism intensified when Mayweather failed to make the contracted weight of 144 pounds, instead tipping the scales at 146 pounds, four pounds heavier than Marquez.

“To be the best, you got to beat the best in your era,” said Mayweather, who was back in the ring for the first time since his 10th round stoppage of Britain’s Ricky Hatton in December 2007.



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