Hyderabad: Former All England champion Pullela Gopichand has an incredible record as a coach of the Indian badminton team. The likes of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap and Sameer Verma had phenomenal results in international events, including in Olympics and World Championships.
As India begin their campaign in the All England championship, all eyes will be on these set of players. For Gopichand, it will be yet another challenge for him as a coach. He admits the workload is tough. “We succeeded in the past and I’m happy about that result. Badminton has grown in the last few years and I hope it continues with that success,’’ he said.
The 44-year-old, who has never disappointed India, said it is going to be a very important month and a half period because there will be All England and couple of weeks later they will leave for Commonwealth Games (Australia). “We had three weeks of good training. I’m happy with the way the things have gone. I’m hopeful we will have a good performance at All England.
“To start with we had two good tournaments _ the Swiss and German Opens _ in which Parupalli Kashyap and Sameer (Verma) won. That is a good beginning. Now, (Kidambi) Srikanth, (HS) Prannoy, Sai Praneeth, (PV) Sindhu and Saina (Nehwal) will be going to All England along with Sikki (Reddy), Ashwini (Ponnappa), Satwik, Chirag (Shetty), Pranaav (Chopra) in doubles.’’
With new service rule coming into force from the German Open, Gopichand reiterated that the Badminton World Federation (BWF) should have introduced it much before the start of All England championship. “I would not personally like the All England to be the first of these experiments. I would have another set of tournaments for experimentations. They could have tested much before the All England. However, for singles players, at the look of it, it doesn’t seem to be a concern. I feel one should not get perturbed with changes in the rules.’’
This year with the seasoned Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo, who was here last year, not available, it is a big challenge for the Indian players. But Gopichand brushed aside the absence of Handoyo. “Of course, it is a challenge in the absence of Mulyo. But we have to work with challenges. It is not just that the challenges were not there in the system. I think as a system, we failed miserably, in putting the second line of Indian coaches. Although, I had spoken for long time and but we could not address the problem. It is time we grow indigenously our coaches so that we don’t have to depend on foreign coaches.’’
Gopichand said he was working for a successful formula in All England championship. “Sindhu had her challenges and we got three weeks for intensive training. She had a couple of niggles, injuries perspective. She struggled and she has overcome that now. Saina has done well. Prannoy, Srikanth, Sai Praneeth have been training hard. I’m optimistic of a good show in the All England.’’
The coach said he wants PV Sindhu to target big this year. “The World No.1 will happen but for me, it is important she does well in the All England and Commonwealth. It will set a trend for the other bigger tournaments like the Asian Games and World Championship that follow those two big tournaments. I really want her to target big in these tournaments.’’
Gopichand said all though things did not go well for Srikanth after a phenomenal run when he won four Super Series titles, he is confident that the Indian top shuttler will regain his form soon or later. “The past few months since September has not been great for him. But he is a player who has a class and I do believe that he will regain his form,’’ adding, “Prannoy has always been a fighter. He is somebody who will revel in big tournaments.’’