New Delhi, Sep 1 (PTI) Sasi Kumar Mukund was excited to be a part of a multi-sporting event for the first time in his career, soak in the experience and watch some legendary athletes in action from close but the tennis player has now “lost interest” in playing for India at the Asian Games even if he gets a last-minute entry due to the “drama” surrounding his selection.
Mukund was one of the singles players picked by the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for the Asian Games but the Sports Ministry did not approve his name since he did not meet the selection criteria of being a top-eight player in the Asian region.
The names of Vaidehi Chaudhari and Sahaja Yamlapalli were also struck off from the women’s squad.
Exclusion of 26-year-old Mukund put AITA in a spot since it left India with only Sumit Nagal as a dedicated singles player in the squad. Nagal is the country’s number one singles player, ranked 189 while Mukund is second-best at 361.
The other four members in the squad — Rohan Bopanna, Yuki Bhambri, Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan — are expected to compete only in the men’s doubles event.
Bhambri and Myneni is one likely pair while Bopanna-Ramanathan is expected to be the other team.
Keen to see that at least two Indians compete in the singles, the AITA and non-playing captain Rohit Rajpal are making an effort to convince the ministry for Mukund’s inclusion.
“The government does not want to waste the public money by sending a large contingent without realistic medal hopes. They are right with their criteria but we need to have two singles players, so I will push for his inclusion,” Rajpal told PTI.
“The ultimate aim for both AITA and the ministry to have more medal winning athletes in the squad. Mukund is emotional but I want him to move on, take it in his stride (his initial exclusion) and now be ready for the Games. But if he is not ready, I can’t get a clearance from the ministry.” Mukund though has expressed his inability to be in the team, having committed to playing two ATP events — one before the Asian Games and one after.
“I was so excited to be playing the Asian Games. I don’t get to see a Neeraj Chopra on a regular basis. I was looking forward to competing alongside my close friend Tejaswin Shankar (athletics). I thought we will compete together,” Mukund told
Source: PTI News