Asian Games 2018: Dad's very strict with me on court; says Pullela Gopichand's daughter Gayatri

Updated: Aug 24, 2018, 16:10 IST | Ashwin Ferro

Gayatri Gopichand reveals that even though Pullela Gopichand is strict with her on court, off court they share a fun equation and have a good laugh about it

Pullela Gopichand's daughter Gayatri in Jakarta yesterday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
Pullela Gopichand's daughter Gayatri in Jakarta yesterday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro

All of 15, Gayatri Pullela Gopichand is like a kid in a candy store at this Asian Games. Part of India's star-studded badminton contingent here, thanks to a fine showing in her first two senior ranking tournaments back home, which also served as selection events for these Games, Gayatri is relishing every moment at her first Asian Games.
"It's been really nice here to stay with the senior players and interact with them. I'm enjoying myself," Gayatri, India's No. 1 U-17 player, told mid-day here yesterday.

The teenager has an infectious smile and is soft-spoken just like her father. However, talk about Gopichand's strict nature and that smile vanishes in an instant. "He is very strict with everyone, even me, when on court. However, off the court, he is very nice. We laugh a lot together," said Gayatri. Her mother, PV Laxmi, a fine former shuttler herself, is firm too. "Mom is strict off the court," she said with a laugh. Badminton began for Gayatri almost by default. "I used to go with dad for matches and that's how I started. Then, I slowly took a liking to it and began playing it seriously," she said.

Like any teenager, Gayatri has quite a few off-court hobbies. "I love watching movies — both Hindi and English. I like listening to music, singing and dancing," she said. Gayatri has favourites in the badminton world. "Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying and current World Champion Kento Momoto of Japan," she said. So what has dad's advice been before coming for the Asian Games? "He told me to enjoy the experience and watch a lot of matches. He told me to watch all the top players in action and try to learn whatever I can from them," she said. Gayatri was included in the team, but did not play.

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