Parupalli Kashyap: I don't blame Saina Nehwal or Pullela Gopichand for fallout
Saina Nehwal's fellow shuttler and hubby Parupalli Kashyap opens up in a book on Olympics.
Every four years, India's top athletes hope to see their countless hours spent in training and competition and the blood and sweat shed therein, culminate in an Olympic medal. Most fail. But it's their behind-the-scenes stories that deserve gold medals. All of them. Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta's Dreams Of A Billion—India and the Olympic Games (published by Harper Sport), is a fine compilation of just these stories and more.
Tale of two grapplers
The book introduces itself with an apt comparison between a fallen hero and a super star at the 2016 Rio Games. Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat and Sakshil Malik—one, who promised to deliver the stars but was ousted by a freak injury and another, who grappled into the history books by becoming India's first women's medalist in wrestling at the Games. The two tales are summed up perfectly: "While Sakshi was feted and celebrated across India, Vinesh was left all alone struggling with an injury and an uncertain future. It was a stunning shift because Vinesh was supposed to be the star, whereas Sakshi was the underdog."
Some of the book's classic chapters are Gopichand's Revolution, Abhinav Bindra and Mother Mary, among others.
The split between badminton coach Pullela Gopichand and his star student Saina Nehwal is also well documented in another chapter, 'Saina, Sindhu and Tokyo 2020', with none other than Saina's now husband and fellow shuttler, Parupalli Kashyap, admitting that, "Saina felt Gopi sir was hers and her alone. For years, Gopi had worked on her. All of a sudden, he now had a lot of players to look after and Sindhu had started to show good results. I don't blame either Saina and Gopi for the fallout. I had started to see things go wrong and did my best to control the negativity, but I was helpless."
Sindhu's meteoric rise is another significant chapter, covering the tall struggles of India's 'tallest' badminton star.
Hockey highs and lows
The authors have also indulged in some in-depth research for a special chapter on Indian hockey's rise and fall at the Olympics, titled The National Game. Right from Dhyan Chand's indomitable side that beat the Germans in their own backyard in 1936 to the Roelant Oltmans-coached Indian team's administrative struggles in Rio, the hockey coverage flows and ebbs well.
Just that we would like to disagree with the suggestion that, "there is an outside chance of a medal in men's hockey at the 2020 Olympics", because, going by Manpreet Singh & Co's sheer form, we believe that there is a strong possibility that Indian hockey will finish on the podium in Tokyo.
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