Popat qualifies for Olympics

National women's champion Aparna Popat would be the lone Indian challenger in the badminton of the Athens Olympics.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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New Delhi:

National women's champion Aparna Popat would be the lone Indian challenger in the badminton event of the Athens Olympics starting on August 14. Popat, ranked 23rd in the world, is the only Indian to find a place in the final qualifying list declared by the International Badminton Federation after the deadline for qualification expired last night. The Indian hope in the men's section rested on former national champion Abhinn Shyam Gupta and Nikhil Kanetkar but the duo was unable to make the cut. Abhinn, ranked 44th, and Kanetkar, ranked 48th, however have an outside chance to participate in the four-yearly extravaganza provided some players withdraw at the last moment as they find themselves in the 2nd and 5th position in the list of players identified for the reallocation process. "I am really happy to make it to my second Olympics in a row. It was a very hectic two and half years in the run up to the qualification and I am glad I made the cut," Popat said. "I have taken a week off from training and would be training hard for the next three months before the Olympics," she said. The 26-year-old Popat, who lost in the first round to Kelly Morgan of Wales at Sydney Olympics, was hopeful that she would put up a better performance this time around. On the basis of the world rankings as on May 1, a total of 172 players representing 30 National Olympic Committees qualified for the Athens Olympics for the five categories -- men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. Asian powerhouse China, which won four out of the five gold medals in the last edition, have the maximum representation with 13 entries having completed their maximum quota of three players in both the singles and women's doubles and also two entries in the men's and mixed doubles. National Olympic Committees now have until May 31 to confirm if players will be selected to represent their country after which the IBF will reallocate unused qualification places until the final entry deadline of July 21. (PTI)