With fewer than two months left for the Tokyo Olympics to begin, India’s lone women’s badminton player in the mega tournament, PV Sindhu, said she is practising well with new coach Park Tae Sang and is not missing India coach Pullela Gopichand at the moment.
Sindhu is the only medal hope for India in the women’s badminton segment after Saina Nehwal failed to qualify as Singapore Open got cancelled in the second week of May due to COVID.
Sindhu moved out of Gopichand Academy recently and now trains with coach Park Tae Sang and trainer Suchitra in Hyderabad. “I will not miss Gopichand Sir in Tokyo. I am putting in about five-six hours with Park and Suchitra every day to keep myself ready for the Games,” Sindhu said in an interview Outlook.
Sindhu, the current world number 7, said she has developed a good understanding with coach Sang. “Park’s personal attention has helped a lot. Ever since we have moved (from Gopichand Academy) to Gachibowli Stadium, the training has been great and the time spent has been worth it,” she added.
The Padma Shri awardee said Park understands her well. “When I am under pressure or in difficult positions, he (Park) lets me think myself. The eye-to-eye coordination with him works perfectly. He knows when to intervene and his reading of my opponents is fantastic,” Sindhu added.
The top shuttler has not had the best of the forms in recent years. Sindhu didn’t win a single title in the 2020-’21 season and lost in the semi-finals at the All-England Open. Sindhu crashed out of Thailand Open in the first round.
The 2016 Olympics silver-medallist, however, is sure of doing well on the biggest sporting extravaganza in Tokyo in July.
‘Second-best’ coaches will produce second-best players for India: Gopichand
Meanwhile, national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand has said that foreign coaches are important, but said that India always got “second-best” coaches who will only produce the second-best players for India.
“A balance of foreign and Indian coaches is important for the system’s development in India,” said Gopichand at the virtual inauguration of the High-Performance Coach Education Programme recently.
“We’ll never be able to get the best foreign coaches, we will always get only the second best, and probably the heart of an Indian coach, who really wants India to win, will be definitely more than the coach who wants the next contract,” he said.
The India badminton coach, who is known to have produced champion shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Shrikant, Sindhu and many more, thinks that the country needs programs that turn former players into coaches.
“So, sports where we have consistently done well, and that we have produced players, it’s important to make programs which change players into coaches,” he added.
“One good player might last for eight to 10 years. But imagine if we produce one good coach. He will last us for 30 to 40 years and the number of players he produces enormous,” he reasoned.
Union Sport Minsiter Kiren Rijiju said Indian athletes have a mindset that they require foreign coaches to win medals. “Whenever I meet athletes they tell me ‘we need a foreign coach to win an Olympic medal’,” Rijiju said.
“That doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in Indian coaches but somehow they have the understanding that the edge of being in the medal bracket can come from a foreign coach,” Rijiju added.
The Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on July 23 in Tokyo and will end on August 8.