Hyderabad: PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal can rule the world badminton as they have the talent, hunger and the ability to beat the best players, according to veteran coach Syed Mohammad Arif. “But they have to continue with their good work. Even in next Olympics, they will be the biggest bets for India,’’ said the veteran coach in an interview on Friday.
The Dronacharya Awardee feels Sindhu has got tremendous talent. “I predicted that she would make a mark. I told Gopi that he should take a special care of her. I would give a piece of advice to Sindhu that she should be grounded as a lot of money has come in after the Rio Olympics success. She should keep on working hard as international competition is very tough.’’
The coach said that Saina is a gritty player. “I’m a firm believer she will play in the next Olympics also. She exhibited her grit right from her childhood. She is on her way to top after the unfortunate injury and the subsequent surgery.’’
If the city has become the capital of Indian badminton today it is because of Arif’s sustained efforts in reviving the game in the eighties. “The facilities were minimum then and we barely had three shuttles, Indian, per session. I used to give money for shuttles from my pocket. There were 75 players in the indoor stadium. I’m happy that I could produce international players.’’
Going down the memory lane, Arif pointed out the game of badminton was never as popular as it is now. “When I came down here in 1978, we had two titles in 25 years before 1984, that too in junior section only. We could boast of these two achievements that time. When I took over it took about four years to start a system in training. Thereafter things started falling into place and rest is history.’’
Arif said than 230 titles have come from the Lal Bahadur Indoor Stadium. “When I retired in 2004, many players including Saina Nehwal who was the junior most player were selected for the national team. Again two years later, I made a comeback to the stadium. Even Sindhu, who began with Mehboob Ali at IRISET, came here for three years training.’’
Aris is known for introducing the importance of fitness in Indian badminton “I could not get any help from modern technology or books on fitness. There was not much research on the game. I started my own training methods in both State and National camps and the results started coming in nationals. Physical fitness was the key to success.’’
Manoj Kumar and Praveen Kumar were the first from his camp to shine on the international stage, he said. “But Gopichand was lucky as he had some players like Manoj, Praveen, Vijayaraghavan and others in the camp. He benefited a lot by training with them. Gopichand also worked on his fitness and was fortunate to get a sponsor in Kailash Chandra, who agreed to pay for five yonex shuttles a day and one international circuit. Thereafter, Gopi did not look back. I had to work a lot with Gopi on his fitness.’’