Gopichand: 'Won't fight to stay as national coach anymore'

Pullela Gopichand concedes that he wouldn't fight to stay as national badminton coach as he's already proven his credentials with two Olympic medals.

"If this sort of move were to take place a few years ago, may be, I would have fought for the post, for, I was just having a vision for Indian badminton. But, certainly not now anymore," says Pullela Gopichand.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Did India’s national badminton coach, Pullela Gopichand, think of quitting when there was a serious bid to clip his powers recently?

"If they wanted my services, I was available," he told Sportstar at his Gachibowli academy, "And, even otherwise, I would not have fought for the post."

A strong lobby in the Badminton Association of India (BAI) had wanted to curb Gopichand's powers as coach by having a panel of coaches. But the BAI bosses went on record that Gopichand will remain as the chief coach.

His goal after setting up his badminton academy, he said, was to produce an Olympic medallist. With Saina Nehwal in 2012 and P. V. Sindhu in 2016, he realised his goal.

Excerpts from the interview

On being the national coach:

The results are there for everyone to see. So, there is nothing now for me to prove or really chase any new goals as we have a set of players (men and women) now who are world-beaters on their day.

If this sort of move were to take place a few years ago, may be, I would have fought for the post, for, I was just having a vision for Indian badminton. But, certainly not now anymore.

On his coaching team:

The biggest challenge, even now, for me is to have a system, which produces consistently the kind of results that are expected of us. Fortunately, I must say, the panel of coaches at my Academy including Mulyo Handoyo, Siddharth Jain, Amrish Shinde, are doing a wonderful job.

Whatever results we are seeing of late, particularly in men’s section, is because of this team's work. In a way, these coaches have given me the freedom to focus on other players more now, as the big names are being taken care off by this panel of coaches.

On setting up more academies:

The reason for setting up more academies, with coaches who have worked with me in the past at the helm, across the country is the fact that the players in the age group of 10 to 15 generally tend to be emotional and seem to be lost if they are put up in a place far away from their homes. So, the idea is to make them feel at home with the sport and then have bigger plans based on their performances.

On player fitness:

You need to plan the big events so well that the player doesn’t suffer from fatigue. Especially, the players coming back from injury, who will be quite naturally enthusiastic to taking part in all majors, need to be extra careful for aggravating a niggle. (It might put) them out of action for crucial months. So, I always (say) it is better option to skip a major and be fully fit than play half-fit and suffer serious injuries.