Indian Athletes must take responsibility too: Prakash Padukone

Updated: Nov 30, 2016, 15:01 IST | Sundari Iyer |

With no shortage of government or private funding in sport now, badminton legend Prakash Padukone believes it’s high time players are also accountable

Prakash Padukone
Prakash Padukone

Former All England champion Prakash Padukone urged athletes to take responsibility for their performances and not blame lack of funding either from the government or private entities.

In an interview with mid-day while announcing the ninth edition of the Tata Open India International Challenge tournament, Padukone (61) spoke about the money being pumped into Indian sport by the government and private bodies and the future of badminton in the country among other issues.

Excerpts:

On government policies to support Indian athletes:
Times have changed. In the last few years, the government has spent crores on athletes across various sporting
disciplines. For example, the amount funded for Rio 2016 was five times more than what was invested for London 2012. But our performance was disappointing.
In London, our athletes came back with six medals, while in Rio we could manage just two. I believe our athletes must take responsibility for their performances especially in big events like the Olympics. It was disappointing to see our players do so badly in Brazil. We were expecting them to better the performance in London, but we did worse.

On whether Saina Nehwal should have skipped the Rio Olympics:
I think Saina didn’t realise how serious her injury was before going to Rio. Since the Olympics comes once in four years, she took a chance and the injury turned out to be serious. Had it been any other tournament, I don’t think she would have participated.

On Saina’s comeback so far:
It’s just a matter of time before she comes back. She is not playing in the Dubai (Super Series finals). She will get a break. By early 2017, I’m sure she will be back to where she was before her injury.

On India’s badminton future:
After Saina and PV Sindhu there is a big gap in the women’s section. There aren’t many women players except for may be Ruthvika Gadde. In comparison to that, there is a decent bench strength among men. Junior players like Siril Verma (who won a silver medal at the World Junior Championships last year in Peru) and Lakshya Sen (won bronze medal at the Asian Junior Badminton Championships in Bangkok this year), among others, are capable of reaching the world’s top 10. I believe Indian badminton is in safe hands.

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