Meet Jwala Gutta, the shuttler who always shoots straight

As much as Jwala Gutta is recognised for her talent in badminton, she is also appreciated for not mincing words regardless of the topic.

Jwala Gutta hails from Wardha, Maharashtra where she was born to Kranti Gutta and Yelen Gutta, who is half-Chinese.

Gutta started out as a tennis player but turned to badminton at the age of six. Mr. SM Arif was her first coach as she began to learn the tricks of the trade.

It did not take long for her to make a mark. Her first major title came at the Under 13 Mini National Badminton Championships at Thrissur which preceded her Junior World Badminton Championship title victory in 2000.

Gutta, who went on to become one of the most successful doubles players, first struck big in the category in the first year of the century when she won both the Senior National Badminton Championships and the Junior National Championships in association with Shruti Kurien. As it turned out, Jwala went on to win seven straight National titles with Kurien between 2002 and 2008.

The duo translated the performance of the national level on the world stage as well. Kurien and Gutta dished out consistent performances, emerging victorious in the Sri Lanka International Satellite Challenge in 2006, the Cyprus Badminton International Tournament, the Indian International Challenge and the Pakistan International Challenge in 2007, the Dutch Open Grand Prix title and the Nepal International Series in 2008.

After seven years of association with Kurien, Gutta switched partners to pair up with Ashwini Ponnappa for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The duo had an instant impact, clinching the Women’s Doubles Gold in front of their home fans.

The two continued their brilliant run the next year, when they won the Doubles bronze at the World Championships in Copenhagen, getting the honour of being the first Indian doubles pair to do so. They became the first Indian badminton players to stand on the podium since Prakash Padukone in 1983.

Jwala became the first Indian to qualify for two events in the history of badminton at the London Olympics. Apart from featuring in the Mixed Doubles with V.Diju, the pair of Jwala and Ashwini fell just a couple of steps short of making history after the duo failed to make the quarterfinals of the Women’s Doubles competition at the London Olympics by a single point.

In 2015, Gutta and Ponnappa won the Canada Open Grand Prix to break into the Top 10 World Rankings for the first time in their careers.

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