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Abhinn qualifies for Olympics

Source: PTI
June 07, 2004 19:12 IST
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Former national champion Abhinn Shyam Gupta will be the second Indian besides Aparna Popat to represent the country in badminton at the Athens Olympics, starting August 13.

Ranked 44th in the world, Abhinn was second on the 'waiting list' for the Olympic Games and made the grade following the withdrawal of players in the qualification list, Badminton Association of India secretary L C Gupta said.

The International Badminton Federation intimated the BAI on Saturday that "Abhinn Shyam Gupta has now been selected to participate in the Athens Olympic Games. The National Olympic

Association should confirm whether the player would be selected for playing in the Olympics".

The BAI secretary said the player will most likely join national women's champion Aparna Popat at Bangalore for training but details would be worked out later.

"I am very happy that I have qualified for the Olympics... It is one of the best moments of my life," Abhinn said from Allahabad.

This will be the first Olympics for the player. The 24-year-old said he was disappointed when he failed to make the cut in the original qualifying list.

"After I won the Mauritius Open I was confident of doing well in the Asian Badminton Confederation Championship and qualifying for the Olympics. But, unfortunately, I missed," said Abhinn.

Popat, ranked 23rd in the world, has already qualified for her second Olympics and is undergoing training at the Sports Authority of India complex in Bangalore.

Nikhil Kanetkar, fifth on the waiting list, could also qualify if a few more players drop out before the event.

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.

National Olympic Committees had until May 31 to confirm if the qualified players would be selected to represent their country after which the IBF was free to reallocate unused qualification places until the final entry deadline of July 21.

Asian powerhouse China, which won four out of the five gold medals in the last edition, have maximum representation with 13 entries. They have 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.

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