New Delhi: Struggling with her form, India's top shuttler Saina Nehwal has split with National coach Pullela Gopichand and sought the help of former chief coach Vimal Kumar to prepare for the prestigious Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Saina had broken her 20-month long Super Series title draught, winning the Australian Open in June and also performed well at the Uber Cup in May but fitness issues forced her to withdraw from her title defence of Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Saina Nehwal. Pic/ AFP
However, despite her best efforts and training, Saina could not win a medal at the World championship last week as she crashed out of the tournament with a straight-game loss to World No.1 Chinese Li Xuerui in the quarterfinals. With the Asian Games just a fortnight away, Saina has decided to hone her skills with Vimal, whose tips had helped her immensely during her unbeaten run at the Uber Cup. The 23-year-old flew to Bangalore today to train at the Prakash Padukone academy for the next two weeks.
"I wanted to train under Vimal sir ahead of the Asian Games as his advice helped me during the Uber Cup. Asian Games is a big tournament and I feel he can help me," the Olympic bronze medallist told PTI.
"I reached Bangalore today and I will train under him for the next 15 days. I want to win a medal at the Asian Games and hope it helps me to do well there." Saina's decision to join Vimal has once again ignited apprehensions about the split with long-time mentor Gopichand, along with whom she had won nearly 20 international titles, including the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold and London Olympic bronze.
However, Saina said it is a temporary decision and she is not thinking about it in that way. "It is just a 15-day stint and after the tournament I will be back to Hyderabad. Gopi sir remains my coach and this is just a temporary thing," she added.
Three years back, Saina had decided to train under coach P Bhaskar Babu but after three months of separation, she came back to Gopichand ahead of her preparations for the 2012 London Olympics. The girl from Hyderabad had won a Super Series title at Denmark in October 2012 and battled issues related to fitness and form for a long time before finally breaking the jinx at the Australian Open in June this year. Asian Games starts from September 19.