A fitter, focussed Jwala has her eyes set on Olympic berth

In the first round of women’s doubles of the Indian Open on Wednesday, World No. 15 Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa face Korea’s Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won, ranked 14th.

Jwala's single-minded approach to fitness and form was hard to miss. "Look at me. Am I not fitter? That’s why I appear taller,” she declares with a customary laugh.   -  Mohammed Yousuf

Given the high-handed way Badminton Association of India (BAI) controls the affairs, it needed a strong personality like G. Jwala to call a spade a spade. Fearless and spontaneous, Jwala has fought the odds to get even with many of her detractors, within and outside the BAI. She obviously did not set out to settle scores but her never-say-die spirit has silenced many who thought her voice could be suppressed.

These days, with the Olympic qualification cut-off date not very far, Jwala is busy focussing on the job ahead. On the eve of the India Open here, the doubles specialist’s single-minded approach to fitness and form was hard to miss. She appears to stand taller than ever before. “Look at me. Am I not fitter? That’s why I appear taller,” she declares with a customary laugh that follows as a suffix. Not to miss the moment, she jokingly flexes her biceps to reinforce the point.

Indeed, this eternal fighter has worked a lot on her fitness, thanks to the personal trainer who accompanied her father, Kranti. With the fitness part taken care of, her focus is on maintaining the form that could seal a berth to Rio.

In the first round of women’s doubles on Wednesday, World No. 15 Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa face Korea’s Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won, ranked 14th. “We are taking only one match at a time. Going by our rankings at present, we should be able to make the cut for the Olympics. We are training hard and we have had some good results. We need to keep at it in the tournaments to follow next month.”

Ashwini’s abilities to smash from the backcourt and Jwala’s alacrity on the forecourt have provided many thrilling moments to the country’s badminton lovers. Jwala is confident the pair’s best is yet to come. Hopefully, at the Rio Olympics.