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Badminton format facilitated match-fixing in Olympics: Indian athlete

Publication Date : 10-08-2012

 

Ashwini Ponappa is still in shock over her early exit from the Olympics and criticises the new round-robin format for badminton which, according to her, encouraged match-fixing in the London Games.

Despite winning two of their three matches in Group B, Ponappa and her partner, Jwala Gutta, failed to progress to the quarter-finals amid allegations of match-throwing by other teams.

“The round-robin format was ridiculous. It exposed a very bad side of the Games. The format encouraged match-throwing. I hope the format changes (in the next Olympics),” Ponappa said, adding: “Because of the format, it could be decided in advance who would play whom (in the knock-out stage). Japan were the top side in our group. Everyone expected them to win against Chinese Taipei. But going into their last match, Japan knew they had to lose against Chinese Taipei to avoid China. It made things easier for Chinse Taipei, who needed a win against Japan. And that's what happened...Japan played China only in the final,” she claimed.

The 22-year-old player from Bangalore said they had been left heart-broken after coming to know the new format robbed the duo of a place in the knock-out stage. According to her, it was the saddest moment of her career when she was told of it.

“We went to the court to win our first match, against Japan. We did our best. In the second and third matches, we got better. We gave everything we had, but unfortunately we couldn't qualify,” Ponappa said.

The badminton competition in the London Games was marred by match-fixing scandals. Four women's doubles pairs were disqualified from the Games for deliberately losing their matches in order to be pitted against easier opponents in the knock-out rounds. The pairs disqualified from the Games include China's women's doubles world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, South Korean pairs Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari.

India's coach Pullella Gopichand lodged a complaint with badminton's global authorities against the Japanese pair mentioned by Ponappa but the protest came to be rejected.

'Inconsistent judging'

Heartbroken after missing out on what would have been his second successive boxing Olympic medal, Vijender Singh yesterday said inconsistent judging had affected the morale of Indian male pugilists, who won nothing in London. The former middleweight (75kg) world number one, who had given India their first Olympic boxing medal in Beijing four years ago, lost in the quarter-finals in London, but felt he had performed better in the previous Games. Vijender said the team had been affected when Sumit Sangwan (81kg) lost his close, opening bout and the subsequent appeal against the original decision was rejected.

“At the biggest event of all, such things should not have happened. To my mind, Sumit, Manoj Kumar (64kg) and L Devendro Singh (49kg) had won their bouts but did not get the right scores. The system was harsh on us and inconsistent judging affected the team's morale,” he said.

Kindo’s demand

Upset over India's disastrous showing in London, former hockey Olympian Michael Kindo yesterday demanded immediate removal of coach Michael Nobbs for slamming the players midway through the Games.

“I feel very sorry for the players. I did not like Nobbs' negative views after the team had lost a couple of matches. The job of a coach is to motivate his players and to get them ready for the next match,” Kindo, member of the bronze medal-winning team in the 1972 Munich Olympics, said in Ranchi.

In London, Nobbs said India's hockey players had a role model within their ranks and should look at Sardar Singh for inspiration.

In another development, Dhanraj Pillay, blaming India's plight on feuds between Hockey India and the Indian Hockey Federation, said he was interested in coming in as an administrator.

With reports from agencies

 

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