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Aparna Balan-Shruti KP have added a fair dose of success to a bittersweet year for badminton!

Aparna Balan-Shruti KP have added a fair dose of success to a bittersweet year for badminton!

Sohinee Basu

Published: 18 Dec 2018 8:31 AM GMT
A little bit of retrospection is enough to highlight the fact that the 2018 season has been far from the very best for top Indian shuttlers until of very late. The year failed to see a balanced performance from everyone and witnessed a lot of near-misses throughout the year. While our minds had only moved back and forth over the big names hogging the limelight, it had missed out on celebrating the laurels brought back by the nine-time National Champion in Doubles and Mixed Doubles Aparna Balan and her budding partner, the 22-year-old Shruti KP. The duo has been teaming up to create success stories ever since October 2017, and they have not been deterred in their passion towards sports in spite of the BAI is not so favourable for them.
Currently, they proudly hold the Number 1 ranking in the National charts too!
Although the year did not pan out to be quite as expected but 32-year-old Aparna Balan is happy with her recent consecutive wins at Nepal International Series for the second year in a row, winning the All India Senior Ranking badminton tournament conducted in Dehradun in February 2018, to winning another Ranking tourney in Hyderabad and then in Kochi during October 2018. Apart from all these wins, Aparna-Shruti have also finished as the runner's-up in Bangladesh International Challenge which was held in December 2018 to finishing as semi-finalists in the Tata Open India International Challenge conducted in Mumbai in November-December too!
Things had not gone down as expected earlier in the year when the duo was sidelined and left out of the Jakarta-Palembang headed Asian Games squad in August. "Actually in 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games I was eligible. Still, they did not take me on the team, and the same thing happened in 2018...they took six singles players instead when only three players are needed in the team. There was no backup team in the doubles team-only two were there," lashed out Balan who fails to understand the logic BAI has been pursuing in this case. The accolades that have come their way have been many, and we need to laud these athletes too who go out independently and win tournaments here and there. Though PV Sindhu's historic win as the first Indian woman to have lifted the year-ending BWF World Tour Finals trophy was a dream come true and added a sweet touch to a bittersweet year for badminton, it's also necessary to take heart in the other achievements won by athletes like Balan and Shruti KP.
Despite the wins, everything is not happy at this front. "I am out of National Camp. I am not getting any partner from National Camp. So I am playing with Shruti, she is a junior. We practice in Kochi. Only those who are in the National Camp are getting into the team. Whoever is performing from outside, they do not include in the team," pointed out Balan who has been a silver medallist in the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games. There hasn't been a lot of financial support either, and the duo has had to fund their conquests. "We are sponsoring ourselves. We are putting our own money. Rank wise now, Shruti is 1, and I am number 2. Shruti is only 22 and a junior. Still
, she is not being selected in the National Camp. If you see our performances, we have beaten every pair in the National Camp,"
revealed Balan who hopes the BAI recognises Shruti's talent and bright future ahead and gives her a chance to play in the National team. Ever the true sportsman, the 32-year-old Balan confesses, "They don't have to take me, it's fine. But Shruti is a junior; she has a long future ahead." Shruti KP, a promising young player who had found her love and passion for badminton ever since she was ten years old, is delighted to have had a 'big year'! "I played my first international tournament and did so many things
the first time,"spilt the excited Shruti who hopes to make it to the National Camp next year. 2019 is going to keep the duo busy alright as Shruti explained, "We are planning to qualify for World Championships which is coming up in August 2019. We have to be in the top '50s to get there. We have Thailand coming up on 8th January next," she informed and gave away the hint of a bustling schedule ahead which promises to see them trying to conquer one title at a time and leave us beaming with pride!
Also read: I have been cheated by the Federation | Aparna Balan
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