Prakash Padukone: Jwala, Ashwini need to use energy on playing

Olympics Gold Quest recently decided to support Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa. Padukone and Sethi felt the two shuttlers had the potential for a medal at Rio Olympics 2016 greater than many others in the race for qualification.

Prakash Padukone with shuttlers Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Poonappa during a press conference organised by Olympic Gold Quest.   -  PTI

Prakash Padukone and Geet Sethi are champions known for composure on and off court, icons who have reached the summit in badminton and cuesport world respectively without missing a step due to pressure of expectations or getting pulled into controversies away from the playing arena.

So when these sporting legends decided to support Jwala Gutta, the outspoken one in a successful Indian women doubles pairing with Ashwini Ponappa, they had a reason. Padukone and Sethi felt the two shuttlers had the potential for a medal at Rio Olympics 2016 greater than many others in the race for qualification.

Both also feel outspoken Jwala should be focussing her energies on playing than getting dragged into controversies for comments on badminton and non-badminton matters.

“On court, she is capable of handling the issues. It is for off-court matters that she can get in touch with us,” explained Padukone, co-founder of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) with Sethi.

He emphasised on absence of a network for leading sports persons.

“Corporates have counsellors who are professionals to mentor staff for any internal matters. Companies engage people from outside to advice employees with problems. Only in sport, there is nothing for performers who are expected to handle everything by themselves.”

Talking about Jwala, former world number one Padukone said, “Jwala is a person who likes to express her thoughts. She does not have anyone to talk to, she cannot discuss some problems with parents. It so happens sometimes her questions are raised through the media, at times it comes out in forums like Facebook and someone makes a comment. She responds and it becomes a controversy.”

Padukone added, “We wish she and Ashwini feel secure, so that instead of spending mental energy on off-court issues, they can focus on badminton. We will take care of the rest. Jwala can approach us for counselling or mentoring. They can qualify for Rio and compared to others, I feel they stand a better chance to win an Olympic medal. Jwala needs to work on fitness and play more events together.”

OGQ announced support for world number 11 ranked doubles combination, the 100th beneficiary of this scheme whose first beneficiary was shooter Gagan Narang in 2008 before Beijing Olympics. Sethi, former world billiards champion, pointed out, “Our support to them is perhaps one per cent, they are capable of handling 99 per cent.”

He added, “This one per cent support can come from OGQ associates, all of whom are experts in various fields ranging from nutrition, recovery etch whose expertise is available to Jwala and Ashwini. This support is very important for sports persons, the difference between winning and losing a medal may happen due to the one per cent.”

OGQ crossed the 100-mark when taking the decision to support India's best badminton women doubles pair. “Rio is the second Olympics for us,” said Sethi. “Gagan Narang was the first to be taken just around Beijing Olympics time. We are ready to support 100 more sports persons chasing Olympic gold dreams, provided the right talent is available.”

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