Vimal: We can definitely expect a Paris Olympic medal from Treesa-Gayatri if they qualify

Vimal Kumar praises young Indian doubles pair Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, tipping them as Olympic medal contenders.

Published : Feb 18, 2024 16:59 IST , New Delhi - 3 MINS READ

India’s  Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Pullela Gopichand in action.
India’s Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Pullela Gopichand in action. | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

India’s Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Pullela Gopichand in action. | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

Former India coach Vimal Kumar is mighty impressed with the doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand and feels the young Indian combination will be a definite contender for an Olympic medal if they qualify for the Paris Games.

The pairing of the two 20-year-olds played a vital role as India scripted wins over badminton powerhouses like China, Japan and Thailand on successive days en route to a first-ever gold medal at the Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) here on Sunday.

Treesa and Gayatri stunned world No. 6 Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida from Japan and world No. 10 Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Pra Jongjai of Thailand in the semifinal and final, respectively. The duo also beat China’s world No. 22 Luo Xu Min and Li Yi Jing in the league stage.

“I give a lot of credit to Treesa and Gayatri for the way they have performed this week. They have done incredibly well. They have a great chance of a medal if they qualify for the Olympics. We can definitely expect a medal from them,” Vimal, who returned to the country after the men’s team campaign, told PTI.

READ | Asian Badminton Team Championships: I think my life will change after this win, says Anmol Kharb

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Gayatri and Treesa are ranked 27th in the world but hold the 14th position in the Olympic Games qualification.

They couldn’t play in the closing stages of the last season due to an injury to Gayatri, affecting their ranking as they slipped from world No. 16 to 23 in the BWF ranking.

Besides others, the pair is also competing with fellow Indians Tanisha Crasto and Ashwini Ponnappa, who are currently ranked 11th in Olympic Games qualification.

In doubles, two pairs can qualify only if they are both in the top 8 by the end of April rankings or else the top pair inside world number 16 will make the cut for the Olympic Games.

The BATC offers valuable Race to Paris 2024 ranking points, and the Indian duo is going to gain a lot following their superlative show this week.

Another star performer for India was young Anmol Kharb, and Vimal said she reminds him of tennis legend Leander Paes.

READ | Anmol Kharb: The teen prodigy who scripted history by guiding India to its first Asian Team Championships title

Playing in her first major international tournament, the 17-year-old from Faridabad showed maturity way beyond her age as she outwitted higher-ranked opponents in all three deciding fifth rubber against China, Japan and Thailand to seal the wins for India.

“Anmol’s fearlessness stands out. She’s gritty, and her attitude and approach is perfect for team championships. We were always concerned about women’s singles, and out of the blue came Anmol. It has been heartening and gives a lot of hope to us,” said Vimal, who is the director of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bangalore.

“In team matches, there’s so much pressure, and she enjoys it, and that helped her win all the crucial matches.

ALSO READ | Badminton Asia Team Championships: Sindhu, Anmol, Treesa-Gayatri star as India lifts maiden title

“In tennis, if you look at it, Leander Paes always played exceptionally well in Davis Cup and has delivered great results for India. Anmol has that spirit, and how we can nurture her is the key going forward.” Vimal was, however, disappointed with the lack of live streaming of the tournament.

“I am disappointed with the lack of broadcasting of the event. It is an important event, and fans had to google to find out where can watch it.

“In a sport like badminton, we are doing well. Lots of good youngsters are coming up, and they need to be projected. It can lift the nation. I plan to write to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry regarding this,” he signed off.

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