Saina Nehwal’s chances of defending her title at the Commonwealth Games looks bleak as she has decided to skip the selection trials for the upcoming multi-sport events.
She said she does not want to exert her body by taking part in the trials as she had just returned from tournaments in Europe and another big event is coming up. She also questioned the logic of having trials at this juncture.
The big-ticket events include the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
The selection trials are scheduled here from April 15 to 20.
The 32-year-old Saina, a two-time CWG gold medallist and 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist, has informed the Badminton Association of India (BAI) about her decision to skip the trials.
Saina said she had e-mailed BAI in early April informing about her skipping the trials but there was no communication from the association.
“I had written to them immediately after I came to know about the trials. I didn’t want my body to go through another tournament at a time when I had just returned from the European leg and just a little over a week remains for the Asian Championships,” Saina told PTI.
“It is slightly unsettling but its okay. I will keep fighting for the Olympics, in the other events and I have no issues if someone else is considered to be deserving and good enough to win a medal at Commonwealth Games and Asian games.”
The CWG squad will consist of 10 members with equal number of men and women, while the Asian Games and Thomas & Uber Cup contingents will have 20 members each, including 10 men and 10 women.
The BAI has made it clear that players inside the top 15 in the BWF rankings will be picked directly, while the rest will be chosen from the trials which will see participation of shuttlers ranked between 16 to 50 in the latest world rankings, released on March 29.
The national governing body will also be “finalising probables for the senior core group for the 2024 Olympic Games” during the trials.
Saina said players deserved more time to prepare for the trials.
“I honestly don’t understand the logic of having trials at this point. Why so many trials all of a sudden. It is not easy to perform, without experience at such a high level. Why do you need world ranking then?
“The international circuit is anyways crammed with so many tournaments and on top of it such trials puts unnecessary pressure. And they could have planned it better, say good 4-5 months, just two weeks back to inform about it is not fair for anybody.”
Among the current crop of women’s singles players, Malvika Bansod, Aakarshi Kashyap, Ashmita Chaliha and Anupama Upadhyaya have been in good form but none of them have beaten top international stars in the world stage.
Injuries and recent form
A former world number one, Saina has been battling a series of injuries and poor form for the past couple of years, which saw see her ranking slip to 23rd.
Saina, who had won gold medals at the 2010 and 2018 CWG, had suffered a serious knee injury ahead of the Rio Olympics.
Last year, She had hurt her groin during the Thomas & Uber Cup Final in Aarhus, Denmark in October, and she was also forced to withdraw midway in the first round match at the French Open due to a knee injury.
Her return to the circuit at the India Open ended in the second round when she lost to the fast-rising Malvika Bansod. After a gap of few weeks, she played three events last month — German Open, All England and Swiss Open — but failed to cross the second round.
However, there were glimses of her earlier self when she played a three-game match against Akane Yamaguchi at this year’s All England Open.