BAI chief: 'Gopichand Academy will be Indian badminton's epicentre'

Badminton Association of India president Himant Biswa Sarma asserted that that the idea of having national camps at other centres doesn't mean the Gopichand Academy will lose its prominence.

BAI president Himant Biswa Sarma (second from right) with P. V. Sindhu (right), Saina Nehwal and Pullela Gopichand.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Gopichand Academy will continue to be the epicentre of Indian badminton and there is no question of shifting any players or coaches from his camp, asserted Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Himant Biswa Sarma. 

The BAI chief after a long meeting with the players in the presence of Gopichand said, here on Saturday, that the idea of having national camps at other centres doesn't mean "we are planning to take away the cream from Gopi. Those proposed national camps are for the others and not for those already training here."

"Yes, there was a proposal from Sports Authority of India to start a national doubles camp in the Delhi University. But again, it doesn't mean we are going to shift the ongoing one here," Sarma said. 

"Well, it is completely up to to the players where to train depending on their convenience and yes if Gopi feels someone can be sent to another academy, then we will take a call," the BAI president said. 

"Indian badminton owes its current status to the great Prakash Padukone first and then to Gopichand's outstanding feats. The BAI is always obliged to Gopi and he is an integral part of every aspect of the road map we are preparing for 2020 Olympics," he said. 

"There is no challenger to Gopi as the chief national coach right now," he said. "Yes, if his daughter starts representing India in World championship or Olympics, then we may not allow him to be the chief coach," said a Sarma in a lighter vein. 

Sarma also said that during the discussion with the players he broached the idea of the big guns playing in the Senior Nationals. "I am glad they all responded positively. Mind you, we are not insisting on them to play because they have a demanding international schedule," he added. 

"Respecting the stature of the core players, they will be featuring in the Senior Nationals from the next edition of Nagpur itself only from the pre-quarterfinal phase and will not be made to play all the preliminary rounds," the BAI chief said. 

He also said that Saina Nehwal or P. V. Sindhu are capable of being the torchbearers of Indian badminton for the next five years easily. The duo were presented with cash incentives of Rs 5 lakhs and Rs 10 lakhs respectively by the BAI chief for their medals in the recent World championship. 

Referring to the Premier Badminton League, the BAI chief said that the next edition will be a three-week show unlike the two-week affair in the previous editions and that they were keen to give it a "more vibrant brand value" this time.

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