On Sunday, Sashina Vignes Waran, who holds a Malaysian passport but has lived in France for more than 8 years, won another International Challenge, this time in Norway, once again raising questions on why she is not yet officially part of the French National Team.
By Raphael Sachetat. Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)
It all started last Sunday when a TV report on one of France’s most followed sports shows on National TV (Stade 2) featured the Vignes Waran sisters, Sashina and Teshana, explaining that they had done everything they could to get their French citizenship, 8 years after arriving in France. The report hinted that there was someone, somewhere, who was either not helping, or who was simply blocking the procedure and word has spread that the glitch was coming from the French Federation itself.
The French officials, in spite of their strong denial, are the subject of this finger-pointing because they had managed to help get Pi Hongyan a French passport in only 3 months in 2004 and apparently, failed to help get one for the Vignes Sisters, some 8 years after their first attempt. Another reason behind the general public’s suspicion is that the President of the French BA – who lives in Strasbourg, the same city as the sisters do – has never met them once in the past 8 years. The two sisters, who arrived in France at 15 and 13 respectively were turned down twice in their application for French passports, bringing a lot of frustration in their club of Strasbourg. The Strasbourg officials were even more concerned after the French BA President blamed them in that same TV report.
Apparently, the help of this attention from the major media might make a change for the 24-year-old and her sister as the Sports Ministry contacted Sashina directly, asking for the file to be sent to her – which shows once again how powerful the media can be in certain circumstances.
In the mean time, Sashina keeps winning. A few weeks after her first success in an International Challenge, the Malaysian-born player struck again in Oslo, this Sunday, edging none other than the top-seeded world #37, Linda Zechiri from Bulgaria.
“I beat the world’s 37th who finished 3rd in the last European Championships! I’m happy,” Sashina wrote on her Facebook page, which is filled with words of encouragement from her growing number of fans.
Vignes will get closer to the world’s top 40 with this victory – to #42, to be precise – which means that she simply would become the world’s top-ranked Malaysian player, ahead of Tee Jing Yee, who is currently #45. And she is now less than 10 spots away from Pi Hongyan, who has retired, and who will symbolically cede her spot as the potential best “French” player should Sashina see her last request to become a French citizen granted.
Apart from Vignes’ success, Olso saw a good show put on by the Dutch team with three victories in the mixed and doubles events with two gold for Samantha Barning (photo), while Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen beat top seed Malaysian Tan Chun Seang 21-17, 21-12 in the men’s singles event.