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June 08, 2017

Feisty Achievers: Jwala Gutta

Text by Tina Dastur. Photograph by Shreyans Dungarwal

For her fearlessness on the court, never-back-down attitude and formidable pairing with doubles partner Ashwini Ponnappa

Outspoken, passionate and feisty, Jwala Gutta is renowned for her unconventional forehand serve, which was a major contributing factor to her success on court. Along with her partner Ashwini Ponnappa, she brought the country countless laurels and established herself as one of India’s badminton greats. Today, after over 15 years of wielding a racket in professional badminton, the Arjuna Award winner is busy with her Global Academy for Badminton in her hometown of Hyderabad, which aims at nurturing deserving talent.

On criticism
In this day and age of social networking, it becomes very convenient for a lot of people to criticise because it’s so easy to hide behind computers and user IDs. It’s just a form of entertainment for many. But yes, I welcome constructive criticism. The other types, I ignore.

Highs and lows
I take them both in my stride. It’s a matter of habit because right from the start it was made clear to me that I must not get overexcited by a win or depressed by a loss. Sport teaches you how to balance the ups and downs…and that’s a very important thing to learn in life.

Hooray moment
In 2008-’09, when I achieved the world number six rank in badminton mixed doubles — my highest career ranking. And of course, the 2010 Commonwealth Games, where I won in front of my family members who were sitting barely two feet away from me.

Pearls of wisdom
Self-belief is important, as is confidence. Have a set goal and work hard till you achieve it. And don’t doubt yourself because the minute you do, things begin to go wrong. Mistakes are a part and parcel of life. We’re human, so things will happen; but that doesn’t mean you should doubt yourself or your abilities.

Pet project
Through the Global Academy for Badminton, I want to encourage talent from across India to participate in the sport. So talent-scouting, monitoring and coaching are all part of the agenda. Ideally, I would also like to provide full financial support to deserving players.

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