Bracing up for the Asian Games, Indian badminton coach RMV Gurusaidutt reckons the country has the “best chance” of winning a gold medal in the men’s team event in Hangzhou.
India won the Thomas Cup in May last year.
“We are the Thomas Cup champions and we have the best chance to go all the way. But it depends on that particular day and the tie, and also how the momentum shifts in team events... it comes down to a lot of basic things,” Guru said.
“Everyone has played at the highest level, all doing well in the circuit. It was good to see we are the fourth seed, so we have a chance to crack anybody. Preparations have been good, so now just rearing to go.”
From chasing an Asian Games medal as a player to guiding India’s top shuttlers as a coach in the quadrennial extravaganza, it has been quite a journey for the former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist.
The 33-year-old from Hyderabad, who featured in two Asian Games in 2010 and 2014, found his calling in coaching after retiring as a player in June last year.
In no time Guru was grooming the likes of HS Prannoy and Priyanshu Rajawat at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad. He will be one of the coaches travelling to the Chinese city for the 19th Asian Games.
Also read | Asian Games 2023: List of all competition venues
“Since I started coaching, it has been quite quick. The timing was good for me. I quit and straightaway I was in the national camp as a coach,” Guru, who claimed a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, told PTI during a chat.
“I was given an opportunity and thanks to Gopi bhaiyya that he trusted me. I have learnt a lot as a player and people backed my experience.” Guru, a 2010 India Open Grand Prix runner-up, is currently training the players in a camp, focusing mainly on Prannoy, Rajawat and Srikanth, who has started practicing there ahead of the World Championships.
“The senior players gave me a lot of respect and freedom to let me be myself and use my thoughts. I have been a bit lucky to get that opportunity and I know it has not been more than a year and a half that I turned coach, but I am not surprised.” Guru was holding the coach’s position when Prannoy claimed the Malaysia Masters and reached the finals of Australian Open. He was also there, along with Gopichand at the World Championships in Copenhagen, where Prannoy earned his maiden bronze.
“I didn’t expect that everything will happen so quickly, I mean I will go to World Championship or Malaysia Masters win but I always backed my thought process,” said the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist.
“I also had a lot of learnings in last 6-8 months: how to understand a player, their mindset, what I could have done in that situation.
“In last three tournaments, I was fortunate to have Gopi bhaiyya next to me and find that I was thinking exactly what he was thinking and I could also take my calls spontaneously. I failed also but the positives have been more. I am loving it.” Just as a player, Guru said his focus will be on each round.
“I want this Asian Games to be treated like a Super 1000 or Super 500. I know medal is important and we all are training for the last day but there is a long way to go. So I would put the focus on the first round,” he signed off.
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