Know your Indian Olympian: 10 things to know about Jwala Gutta

Shankar Narayan

The doubles scene in Indian badminton in the last few years has been dominated largely by two names- Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. The duo has put in some fine performances on the global stage and continue to remain a strong force to reckon with in doubles.

While Ponnappa has tasted success largely in Women’s Doubles, Jwala has had a successful career in Mixed Doubles as well, partnering V. Diju and winning several tournaments. After playing for the Delhi Smashers in the opening edition of the Indian Badminton League, she will play for her home team- the Hyderabad Hunters- in the second edition starting next week.

Here’s a look back at the life and career of Jwala Gutta.

1.Jwala Gutta was born on September 7th 1983 in Wardha, Maharashtra to Kranti Gutta and Yelen Gutta. Her mother is half-Chinese while her father is a Hindu. 

2.Initially inclined towards tennis, Jwala turned to badminton at  the age of 6 and Mr. SM Arif  was her first coach. She won her first major title at the Under 13 Mini National Badminton Championships at Thrissur before  clinching the Junior World Badminton Championship title in 2000.

3.Her first major break in doubles came the same year when she won both the Junior National Championships and the Senior National Badminton Championships with Shruti Kurien. Jwala, in fact won 7 straight National  titles with Kurien from 2002 to 2008.

4.Jwala’s partnership with Kurien proved to be fruitful even on the international circuit as the duo put in consistent performances winning the Sri Lanka International Satellite Challenge in 2006, the Cyprus Badminton International Tournament, the Pakistan International Challenge and the Indian International Challenge in 2007, the Nepal International Series and the Dutch Open Grand Prix titles in 2008.

5.After 7 long years, Jwala decided to change doubles partners and teamed up with Ashwini Ponnappa for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The new pairing tasted instant success, winning the Women’s Doubles Gold in front of their home fans. The shuttler was emotional post the triumph and asked those who had spoken negatively about her to keep their mouth shut.

"This medal will silence my critics. This is my answer to them to whatever happened. I am very happy and everyone who has negative thoughts about me, I would like to say just shut up now,"

6.The duo continued their impressive run the following year, when they won the Doubles bronze at the World Championships in Copenhagen, thereby becoming the 1st Indian doubles pair to do so and the first shuttlers to stand on the podium since Prakash Padukone in 1983.

7.Jwala and Ashwini took part in the Women’s Doubles competition at the London Olympics, but failed to make the quarterfinals by a whisker, missing out by a single point. A day before the duo played their last group encounter, the 5th ranked Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa of Japan had been defeated by the Chinese Taipei pair of Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin in straight games, who were ranked 10th.

The results didn't go down too well with the Indian duo and they questioned the spirit in which that particular match was played. Despite India lodging a formal protest, no action was taken.

"We know both the players - the Japanese and Chinese Taipei players. I was very shocked. I think Japanese wanted to lose the match; the other side had nothing to do with this."It is wrong and unfair. The importance of Olympics dies. We worked very hard and I am very proud of myself. If given a chance we are ready to go into the quarterfinals."

The London Olympics also saw Jwala become the first Indian to qualify for two events in the history of the sport. She also played the Mixed Doubles with V.Diju in the same edition of the Games.

8.Jwala returned to the sport again in 2013 and played for the Delhi Smashers in the inaugural Indian Badminton League. 2014 proved to be a fruitful year for her and Ashwini as the duo won the silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and then clinched the bronze at the Asian Games in Incheon.

9.2015 didn't prove to be too successful a year for the duo until July when they won the Canada Open Grand Prix and eventually made it into the Top 10 of the World Rankings for the 1st time in their career.

10.Along with having a successful Women’s Doubles career, Jwala also had a good partnership with V.Diju in the Mixed Doubles, winning as many as 8 titles. they also became the first Indian pair to win a Grand Prix Gold title in 2009, when they won the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix Gold. They also reached the finals of the BWF Super Series Masters that very year.

An item number and the Arjuna award and Federer fan

1.Jwala was given the Arjuna award in 2011 for her achievements  in the spot.

2.In 2013, Jwala did an item number in Telugu movie, Gunde Jaari Gallanthayyinde.

3.She admires Roger Federer and Steffi Graf and likes listening to any music except heavy metal.