Despite the unprecedented halt in sports that affects a lot of sporting events, former All England champion, Olympian and national coach Pullela Gopichand believes that he inspiring success of P. V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal at the global level has made badminton the most flourishing sport in India in the last decade. Gopichand also expressed hope that the cost of playing the sport will also reduce.
Recognised by the International Olympic Committee for his contribution to badminton, Gopichand said when he started coaching in 2004 with 25 trainees, including Sindhu, Saina and Kidambi Srikkanth in Hyderabad. The impressive displays of two Indian shuttlers have been the biggest advertisement for Indian badminton.
“I can say, this is the sport (badminton) which has developed the most in the country in these past 10 year or so. When I started my coaching career in 2004, there were just 10 good courts in Hyderabad but now there are more than 1000,” he said during a webinar. Gopichand, who won the 2001 All England champion, switched to coaching in 2004 produced two Olympic medallists in Nehwal and Sindhu.
Despite having won only one major title in 2019, world champion and India’s sensational badminton star P.V. Sindhu hopes to bag an Olympic gold in Tokyo 2020. Sindhu became the first badminton world champion from India as she clinched a gold medal at the BWF World Championships last year. Sindhu won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics when she failed to hold Spain’s Carolina Marin.
“I had 25 trainees at that time, all young with 16 years as the oldest one. Sindhu was the youngest. Nobody thought these players would become the world beaters of now. People thought our women players will not be able to hit the shuttle so hard,” he added. Gopichand’s badminton career was halted by an injury that led him to coaching instead.
The 46-year-old Gopichand said Prakash Pradukone’s All England title in 1980 was one of the defining moments of Indian badminton and rated his All England triumph in 2001 as his best achievement.“I had many injuries and I could not apply this to me but I was able to do that in my coaching.” He also said that “players will have to be physically and mentally ready when the sports resume.”
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