Mumbai: Kranti Gutta is happy his daughter and India's ace shuttler Jwala Gutta is finally making news for all the right reasons.
Jwala and her partner Ashwini Ponnappa scripted history at London's Wembley Arena on Friday by becoming India's first women's doubles pair to win a medal at the World Badminton Championships, a bronze, after they stunned 12th seed Indonesians Vita Marrisa and Nadya Melati 17-21, 21-10, 21-17 in the quarter-finals.
Unfortunately on Saturday, they lost 14-21, 16-21 in the semis to World No 5 Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlai of China.
"The bronze medal is a historic achievement nevertheless and I'm proud that my daughter is among the first women in India to have achieved this," Gutta Sr told MiD DAY from his home in Hyderabad yesterday.
"The legendary Prakash Padukone won India's only other medal -- a bronze, in the 1983 Worlds in Denmark, and I believe Jwala is another legend in the making," said Kranti.
Jwala's personal life has been been through tumultuous times after a recent divorce to India shuttler Chetan Anand, followed by an alleged link-up with former India cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin. Her split with best friend and partner Shruti Kurien in 2009 didn't do her professional life any good either as critics blasted her both on and off the court. "But her Delhi Commonwealth Games gold medal and this bronze has proved her critics wrong and should shut them up now," said Kranti.
The London achievement would have surprised many back home, but according to Kranti, his girl boarded the Hyderabad-Heathrow flight with the intention of returning with a medal round her neck. "She was confident of some medal -- she didn't know which one -- but a medal is sure, she had said, because she had put in a lot of hard work into training for the Worlds," said Kranti, who still remembers how excited Jwala was as soon as she won her quarter-final. "She called me from London and was screaming over the phone, 'dad, we won, we won. I can't believe it, we won.' That reaction summed up all the effort the two have put into this competition."
Also, the fact that the tournament was played at the very place that will host the badminton competition of next year's London Olympics, will have increased the anticipation back home. But Kranti is relaxed. "The Olympics is still far off. Before that, she has a host of tournaments lined up, so she'll be focussing on them," he said, as he revealed one hidden wish. "I'm 53 and not getting any younger, so I keep telling her coach (SM) Arif sir to ensure I'm fit to be able to go to watch her win an Olympic medal one day," he said.
Jwala's mum, Yelan meanwhile, is busy preparing for a party back home. "We will be inviting all our friends and well wishers from the badminton fraternity for a get-together at our place once Jwala's back in a couple of days' time," Yelan said. And as for a gifting her daughter something, Yelan quipped: "The best gift for Jwala will be Chinese food, which I will prepare, but without too much of masala. She likes it that way."