Odisha Shuttler Rutuparna Panda In 20-Member Squad For Asian Games

New Delhi: Odisha’s shuttler Rutuparna Panda has made it to the 20-member squad for Asian Games 2018 to held at Jakarta. Badminton Association of India (BAI) announced the names of the players on Wednesday.

She is among the seven players picked by the selection committee of the federation, which for the first time in its history followed an elaborate process by organising two senior ranking tournaments in Bangalore and Hyderabad to allow domestic players a chance to prove their quality and talent.

Sourabh Verma, Ashmita Chaliha, Sai Uttejitha Rao, Gayathri Gopichand, Akarshi Kashyap,  and Aarthi Sara Sunil are the remaining six selected on the basis their performance in these competitions.

For the Asian Games, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy will lead the men’s team, while the women’s team will be spearheaded by PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal.

The squad, which is a fine mix of experience and youth, will see Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy lead the Indian challenge in the men’s doubles, while Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa will be responsible for leading India’s charge in the women’s doubles section as part of the elite team selection.

The selection committee met in Bangalore and while selecting the squad also kept in mind the consistency and fitness of the players over six months period as well report of coaches from the training camps and competitions as criteria for selection, BAI sources said.

Congratulating the players on getting selected to represent the country in the quadrennial event, BAI President Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The selection committee did a wonderful job in putting up the squad together. To keep the selection process fair and transparent, certain criteria were set by the selection panel with key being the points earned by each player from the two qualification domestic tournaments. Wherever the scores of two players were same; their head to head performances were considered before finalising the names.”

Indian badminton which is going through its best ever phase would definitely want to better their 2014 medal count, where they returned with just a lone bronze medal in women’s team event and also aim for glory in the individual event where a medal has eluded the country since Syed Modi’s bronze in 1982, Asian Games, Delhi.

BAI General Secretary Ajay Singhania said, “This is first ever initiative by BAI to ensure more players get a chance to showcase their talents and the reserve is strengthen. We have put together a very strong team and are very optimistic of our chances in the Asian Games. The mix of youth and experience for sure will work wonders for us in team and individual events in Jakarta and hopefully will return with our best-ever performance in Asiad.”

The continental blue rib, which is in its 18th edition, will start from August 18, with the badminton event commencing on August 19 and running up till August 28.

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