Mumbai: The legendary Prakash Padukone believes that Indian shuttlers have a very good chance of winning multiple medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, considering the depth in both men's and women's singles.
Prakash Padukone. Pic/Atul Kamble
The Rio Games will be held from August 5 to 21 and the qualification for the tournament is on and will end on April 30, 2016.
A former All-England champion, Padukone added that India have a better and stronger team this time with star players like Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap along with top doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.
"I am confident badminton will do well this time in Olympics compared to other editions. Chances are very high for our shuttlers to win medals this time. This is the best phase of Indian badminton. We have good players and so many options both in men's singles, women's singles and women's doubles," Padukone said here on Wednesday.
The 60-year-old is the co-founder of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), a programme founded to identify and support Indian athletes with a proven track record who have the potential to win Olympic medals.
"It is important for the players to peak at the right time and give their best. Rankings here don't matter, what matters is how they perform on the given day," added Padukone, who won the 1983 Worlds bronze.
OGQ on Wednesday announced their support for top women's doubles pair Jwala and Ashwini, who will lead the country's charge in doubles in the Brazilian metropolis.
"OGQ will help the duo, it will give them all sorts of support. They don't have to worry about anything other than performing well and concentrate on their training," said Padukone.
Speaking about Jwala and Ashwini who in 2011 brought home India's second medal from the Worlds after 28 years, Padukone said Jwala and Ashwini have not played up to their potential till date, adding that he is confident the duo will deliver their best in the upcoming tournaments leading up to the Olympics.
"Jwala and Ashwini haven't played up to their potential till date. I know they have the quality to play at their best and I know they will do well in the upcoming tournaments. Their goal should not just be at Rio but in all upcoming events in the lead up to the Olympics. Performing well will give them a lot of confidence and they can carry it ahead in the big tournament," he said.
The 1978 Commonwealth Games champion also pointed out that the appointment of Malaysian Tan Kim Her as the country's doubles coach will help the pair a lot.
"The most important thing which has happened is that we have now got a doubles specialist coach which will help them a lot. Over the past years it was needed but we missed it. Now the doubles pair will get to train under him," he said.
"But we have to ensure we give good amount of time to the coach to get used to the players. We must give him at least 2-3 years before expecting results. Searching the right kind of talent is important and hope the new coach with time will help us with it."