Saina, Sindhu pushed fitness bar higher: Pullela Gopichand

By Author  |  Sports Bureau  |  Published: 29th Aug 2017  8:25 pm
Pullela Gopichand
Photo: Surya Sridhar

Hyderabad: The 110-minute marathon battle between Nozomi Okuhara and PV Sindhu in the Glasgow World Championship could see the teams giving more emphasis to fitness in the future. This is because the defence has become stronger and the players will go for increased fitness training sessions, according to chief national coach Pullela Gopichand.

“Defences have grown stronger and so the level of fitness has gone higher and it was all another level in the final. There were a lot of rallies. It tested the players,’’ said Gopichand on his return on Tuesday. He said that such was intensity of the final that the players never had any time to experiment. “The new age badminton as a sport has picked up phenomenally because this kind of matches can bring in the crowds. It will continue to rise.’’

The coach, who once again reiterated that the Sindhu- Okuhara final as one of the best ever in World Championship, said India was fortunate to have players like Saina Nehwal and Sindhu who have pushed the fitness bar higher. “In the men’s, whether it is Kashyap, Prannoy, Srikanth or Sai Praneeth, they have started to increase and improve their fitness level.’’

He was happy with the overall performance of the Indians at the World Championship. “At the end of the day’s Sindhu’s performance eclipsed others even though Saina won a bronze.

Srikanth was close to winning a medal. This was his second quarterfinal in the championship in World and Olympics. Sai Praneeth had two good wins. Sikki and Pranaav and Sikki and Ashwini Ponnappa gave good performances. The system has been working for us.’’

On the yellow card to Sindhu, Gopichand said it was a long match and it was a World championship final. “There are set of rules and different umpires use it differently. It was not such a big thing and Sindhu did a pretty good job. The umpire was right on her rules.’’

Gopichand said that he was proud of Sindhu’s performance. “I think everybody in the country was tense. The match deserved that type of attention as it was a tough match. I’m proud the way Sindhu responded and for me it was one of the best finals in the World Championship. It has been great preparation for us thanks to the entire team. Our coaches, led by Mulayo Handoyo, did a wonderful job. It is great to win a medal and hopefully she will have more medals.’’

The coach said that Indian sport is at a stage which has never been so in the past while talking about the National Sports Day. “We have the highest offices talking about sport and we never had somebody as eminent as the prime minister to address sports. It is not about winning but also about the sport culture of the country. We are lucky, on this sports day, we actually have two medals. Right from 2013, we have been consistent with our performances, whether it is Olympics or World Championship. We have broken one more barrier of winning two medals in the World Championship. Of course, a lot more need to be done.’’

He also appreciated the new sports Portal introduced at the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It is a great initiative and today technology can spot talented player from any part of the country. I think the ability to be seen at the national level is what the portal brings out. You can click a video and uploaded it. The panel will view it. I believe in the days to come, there will be lot of intent from the government and corporates.’’