KARACHI: Pakistan Badminton Federation have dropped national champion Palwasha Bashir from the team for the upcoming South Asian Games (SAG) in India next month.
The team was selected during two-day trials in Islamabad from December 26-28, 2015. Palwasha was unable to attend the trials due to personal reasons and had sent an email to the PBF informing them and requesting exemption.
The 28-year-old told The Express Tribune that she was busy with her wedding and therefore couldn’t appear for the trials. However, she had hired a personal coach in order to ensure she remained in peak fitness.
“I started playing again after a month-long break. The last time I played was in the Bahrain International Series where I won the silver medal in the doubles,” she told The Express Tribune. “I requested them to exempt me based on merit and my performances.”
Palwasha is the country’s best player and is the reigning singles national champion since 2009. She was also the first female badminton player from Pakistan to win a medal at SAG when she earned herself a bronze in the last edition.
“I expect that based on my recent and previous performances, I will be exempted from the trials so I can win further laurels for Pakistan,” she stated in her email to PBF on December 23, 2015. A PBF official confirmed that Palwasha had not been selected but president Mian Iftikhar Hussain and secretary Wajid Ali Chaudary did not comment.
However, the controversy surrounding Palwasha’s exclusion has not deterred senior player Sidra Hameed, who remains optimistic of winning medals for Pakistan.
Sidra, 27, finished second in the trials and had last represented the country in 2011 during Fajr International Badminton Championship in Tehran, Iran. She is currently ranked second in doubles and third in singles in Pakistan.
“Being the most senior player, there is added responsibility on my shoulders,” she said. “I am aiming to win the silver in the team event, the mixed doubles and the doubles, along with the bronze in singles.”
Sidra, however, admits that she needs luck on her side. “It depends on favourable draws; if we have the likes of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in our pool, then our chances of reaching the semi-finals are quite good.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2016.