Gopichand: 'Sindhu well prepared for the new season'

Sportstar caught up with the Chief Coach of the Indian Badminton team, he talks about P.V Sindhu, the new season, plans for the sport in the country and Saina Nehwal.

P. Gopichand says that an Olympic medal is once in a lifetime achievement, but for Sindhu, he hopes, it is more than once.   -  M. Vedhan

P. Gopichand was in the city to launch the Yoga World Festival to be held next month. Sportstar caught up with the Chief Coach of the Indian Badminton team. Excerpts.

The post Olympic felicitations and events for you and P.V. Sindhu might have been hectic. How tough has it been to not let that affect the training?

It is once in a lifetime achievement (winning an Olympic medal) for many; though for Sindhu, I hope, it is more than once in a lifetime. She has taken the adulations in her stride, and has been managing to get good training. The training could get better. But, given the circumstances, she has been working really hard.

How prepared is Sindhu for the new season?

I think post a big high like Olympics, to keep peaking is not going to be easy. I don't expect her to be playing at her best as much. We trained for peaking at the Olympics. She has worked very hard in the last few weeks whenever we had a chance. I am very happy with her training performance. Whether it translates to match results, we have to see. But, she is very motivated and has been working hard.

>Read: Sindhu wants to move on from Olympics

You have been influential in the two medals. But what is the roadmap to improve the quality of coaching across the country?

First, thanks to the government, SAI, and BAI we’ve got this far. We have already started discussing to build on the success. The important thing is to make sure this success is not person-driven or person-centric. It needs to be system-driven. With these medals, we have shown that Indian badminton can compete at the highest level. There is a conscious effort to take the coaching to the next level.

Sometime back there were plans to have feeder centres including here in Chennai which has not taken off. Reasons?

Last few months, leading to the Rio games, and even the last year, my entire focus was on winning a medal at the Olympics. I had shut myself out from everything else and was focussed on the excellence training with Sindhu and K. Srikanth. With the medal done now, very soon you will see a lot of new initiatives to better coaching standards across the country.

Few words on Ruthvika Shivani Gadde in the Russian Open?

It’s good to see her win. She was instrumental in winning a medal in Uber Cup. Each performance of a top-level player inspires the other, and Sindhu’s performance has been an inspiration for her.

How tough will it be for Saina Nehwal to comeback from injury and fight at the top?

She is somebody who knows what it takes to compete. I am sure she is in the right direction. With someone like her who has played at the highest level, once she recovers, it won’t be very tough.