Pullela Gopichand: Tokyo 2020 should be golden for India

Updated: Jan 22, 2019, 10:49 IST | Subodh Mayure

Chief badminton coach Pullela Gopichand lays down marker for Olympics

PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal with their respective silver and bronze medals at the Jakarta Asiad. Pic/PTI
PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal with their respective silver and bronze medals at the Jakarta Asiad. Pic/PTI

India's chief coach Pullela Gopichand has credited Saina Nehwal for changing the perception of badminton in the country. "For a long time, before these girls [Saina and PV Sindhu] emerged, badminton was primarily known for men's singles players be it Nandu Natekar, Suresh Goel, Prakash [Padukone] Sir or Syed Modi. That's how things were. Saina was important in bringing about that change [in perception].

"We needed somebody with that kind of push, hunger and will to win," Gopichand said. Gopichand was in Mumbai yesterday for a felicitation function where seven shuttlers in the age group of nine to 12 were honoured for being winners of the IDBI Federal Quest for Excellence Young Champs Programme. The youngsters will be trained at Gopichand's academy in Hyderabad for the next two years.

India's chief badminton coach Pullela Gopichand at an event in the city yesterday. Pic/Sameer Markande
India's chief badminton coach Pullela Gopichand at an event in the city yesterday. Pic/Sameer Markande

More to come from Sindhu
PV Sindhu too was praised by Gopichand. "It is great to see what Sindhu has achieved - World Championship medal, Olympic medal and all others medals. You can still look at her and say, she has two Olympics to go at least and that is fantastic," the chief coach said of the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist.

Gopichand, the 2001 All England singles champ, is optimistic of India's chances in next year's Tokyo Olympics where they can win their maiden badminton gold medal.

Positive future
"I think every year in the last few years has been better than the previous one. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the quarter-final results was the best. In London 2012, we had our first-ever bronze [Saina]. In 2016 at Rio, we won our first-ever silver [Sindhu] and hopefully in 2020, we will win our first-ever gold," remarked Gopichand.

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