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P Gopichand: Two good matches can ensure Olympic medal

In the current format, coach Gopichand hopes Indian shuttlers clinch a medal at Rio in doubles

Ahmedabad: The injury worries have been never-ending in the past few months but national badminton coach P Gopichand on Saturday said he expects at least seven players to qualify for the upcoming Rio Olympics.

India’s Jwala Gutta (right) and Ashwini Ponnappa during their BWF World Championships match against Taipei’s Hsieh Pei Chen and Wu Ti Jung at Jakarta in August last year. Pic/Getty Images
India’s Jwala Gutta (right) and Ashwini Ponnappa during their BWF World Championships match against Taipei’s Hsieh Pei Chen and Wu Ti Jung at Jakarta in August last year. Pic/Getty Images

“We will start training in the next couple of months (after the qualification round). We expect to participate in five events, but we will focus more on training now than the tournament,” Gopichand told reporters on sidelines of an event here.

P GopichandP Gopichand

K Srikanth, PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, and Manu Attri are among the players likely to make it to India’s badminton team to the Olympics, scheduled to be held in August this year, he said.
Fitness problem

“In the last few months some of the players have been struggling with fitness problems but they have continued to play because of qualification. Once it is done, then we have a clear four weeks of training, and two tournaments. After that, we will have six weeks to go for that, so we will focus on training,” he said, referring to the injury sustained by shuttler P Kashyap.

“Six-seven weeks of training will set all the players,” he said. When asked about the prospects of winning a medal in the doubles event, he said given the format “two good matches at the Olympics could ensure a medal for Indian players”.

On the injury of Kashyap, the World No 17, Gopichand said he expects him to recover soon. “It is a part of a sportsperson’s life, but it is heartbreak for him to be injured,” the former ace shuttler said. On the performance of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, Gopichand said that new coach Kim Tan Her is “taking care of them”.

The two players crashed out of the China Masters Grand Prix Gold tournament yesterday. “We have a coach who is in place who is travelling with them all the time,” he said.

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