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Jwala unfazed by late change in schedule

July 28, 2012 00:56 IST

Indian badminton doubles ace Jwala Gutta was in for a surprise as last minute changes were made to her playing schedule at the London Olympics on Friday.

Gutta is playing the women's and mixed doubles, and both her first round matches were rescheduled for Sunday. The late change -- the organisers advanced both the matches by a day -- means she will open her campaign at the Olympics on Saturday.

She, however, was unfazed by the sudden change in the schedule.

"I'm pretty used to playing two matches every day. It happens," she said, after the Indian badminton squad, which also includes Saina Nehwal, Ashwini Ponnappa, Parupalli Kashyap and V Diju, had their last practice session at the Wembley Arena before competition begins.

The World Badminton Federation (WBF) admitted their original plans, released on Wednesday, did not follow competition regulations regarding the correct sequence of matches.

"The top-ranked player in a group shall play the lowest-ranked player first and the second-ranked player last in the group matches," read a statement from BWF technical delegate Pisaqn Rangsikitpho and tournament referee Torsten Berg.

"As the IOC required the application of this sequence when the group play was accepted in the Olympic Games regulations for the badminton competition, it was decided to revise the playing schedule accordingly.

"We apologise for the inconvenience caused by this change," it added.

IJwala Guttandia's badminton coach Pullela Gopichand said the players were caught unawares by the change, but have enough time to adjust.

"We found out today, so it is okay. It is enough time that we can make adjustments," he said.

Guta's first taste of action at the Games will be in the mixed doubles. She and V Diju are up against the Indonesian pairing of Ahmad Tontowi and Natsri and Lilyana. The match is expected to start around 1300 hours on Saturday.

"I think we can win the match. I'm pretty confident," said Gutta.

Parupall Kashyap will take on Yuhan Tan of Belgium in the first round match of the men's singles event (1410 IST). Gutta then returns to the court for her second match of the day, in the women's doubles with partner Ponnappa, against the Japanese duo of Reika Kakiiwa and Mizuki Fujii at 1950 IST.

Gopichand pointed out that the Indian players will find it a bit difficult on the opening day because of the wind in the arena, and will need to adjust quickly.

"There is a draft on the court but it is the same in most big stadiums. It moves the shuttlecock sideways, but it will be different when the spectators arrive. We will have to adjust on the day (first day of competition)," he added.

The former Indian badminton ace also believes that since the sport has grown in the country the players need to manage themselves better with the increase in popularity.

"There is a lot more knowledge of the sport and the players are becoming well-known. But it is a part of professional sport. Our athletes have to be grounded. It is important to be able to isolate themselves from the things that can affect their performance."