CHENNAI: PV Sindhu did what PV Sindhu generally does during the Tokyo Olympics. She stamped her class to become the first woman from the country to return with two Olympic medals. It has been almost a month since that historic moment transpired and it looks like her followers will have to wait a bit longer to watch the Hyderabad shutter weave her magic with her racquet again. She was expected to be in action soon but the Badminton Association of India (BAI), on Sunday, said that the lanky shuttler won't be part of two assignments: Sudirman Cup and Thomas and Uber Cup.
Based on their performances during the selection trials that were conducted recently, the BAI — the governing body of the sport in the country — announced the teams on Sunday. Sindhu has been omitted from both the squads. BAI said that the shuttler wanted to defer her return to get some rest after a demanding run during the Olympics. Sindhu played a total of six matches, spending a total of 254 gruelling minutes to return with a bronze medal during the Olympics.
Sindhu was not part of the aforementioned trials and was initially handed a direct entry for both the events along with Saina Nehwal, B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth and World No 10 men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.
The other notable omission is Saina, albeit for Sudirman Cup which is due to be held from September 26 to October 3 in Vantaa (Finland). However, the London Olympics bronze medallist, who was not part of Tokyo Olympics, is expected to be in action during the Thomas & Uber Cup, the second event which will be held from October 9 to 17 in Aarhus (Denmark).
"Sindhu had requested us for a break. So we allowed her. She did very well at the Olympics and it would have been hectic. Saina also had a word with us. She said she will be ready for the Uber Cup. She said she had just started her training and would be ideal to start at the Uber Cup," Ajay Singhania, BAI general secretary, told this daily.
The players are expected to assemble for a camp on September 12 and start training a day later. The venue is likely to be the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.
In the absence of Sindhu and Saina, youngster Malvika Bansod (who was No 1-ranked during trials) and Aditi Bhat will lead the country's challenge in the women's singles department during the Sudirman Cup. Seniors Praneeth and Srikanth are big names alongside rising doubles duo Satwiksairaj and Chirag. After an impressive show during the trials, Kiran George was rewarded with a berth in the second event. Happy with the balance of the teams, Singhania is hopeful that the youngsters can do well. "It was a fair selection trail. We were informed about the format well in advance. The players are also highly motivated. Kiran was excellent during the trials and we are hopeful that he'll do well in the days to come."
Syed Modi under cloud
Since the start of the pandemic, the BAI, despite all their efforts, have been unable to conduct a domestic meet. As things stand, there's doubts in regards to the Syed Modi tournament, which is scheduled to be held from October 12 to 17. "There are talks that we could experience a third wave of Covid-19 pandemic in October-November. The players have not had proper training and not everyone can afford flight fares. So we'll have to consider everything before conducting a tournament," Singhania noted.
"In regards to Syed Modi, the local DM is yet to grant us permission. So, it is likely that the event will be postponed. It is a big issue. The local DM has all the authority. Everyone is worried because of the pandemic. And the players' safety is our primary concern."
Thomas and Uber Cup | October 9 to 17
Men: B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, Kiran George, Sameer Verma, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Dhruv Kapila, MR Arjun, Krishna Prasad Garaga, Vishnu Vardhan
Women: Saina Nehwal, Malvika Bansod, Aditi Bhatt, Tasnim Mir, Tanisha Crasto, Rutuparna Panda, Ashwini Ponnappa, N Sikki Reddy, Gayatri, Treesa Jolly.
Sudirman Cup | September 26 to October 3
Men: Praneeth, Srikanth, Satwiksairaj, Chirag, Dhruv, Arjun
Women: Malvika, Tanisha, Aditi, Tanisha, Rutuparna, Ashwini, Sikki