Sikki Reddy: Ponnappa’s choice to train separately won’t affect Olympics goal

“...having played together for so long, it is only a question of a few practice sessions together that should see us a formidable force,” doubles specialist N. Sikki Reddy said about her playing partner.

India's lead women's doubles pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy during a training session at the Gopichand Academy.   -  V V SUBRAHMANYAM

Her doubles partner might have decided not to train with India’s other Olympic badminton probables in Hyderabad, but N. Sikki Reddy insists she can continue to stay focused on her long-term goal of making it big at the next Games in Tokyo.

Ashwini Ponnappa, the 2011 World Championships bronze medallist in women’s doubles with Jwala Gutta, has preferred to train in her home town Bengaluru under the tutelage of renowned coach U. Vimal Kumar.

“Yes, Ashwini said she would be joining a few days before any major tournament to train together. It is understandable given the current situation where not much travelling is welcome,” the 26-year-old Reddy told Sportstar.

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“I don’t see it as an issue, though ideally it would have been better if we trained together. But, having played together for so long, it is only a question of a few practice sessions together that should see us a formidable force,” the doubles specialist said.

Reddy says the draw for the Thomas and Uber Cup, to be held later this year, seems to be pretty good for the Indian team and that she is hoping to put up a standout performance in what could be the first major badminton event since the pandemic forced a lockdown on all sports activity since March.

“I am not sure how exactly the training schedule will be once it resumes at the Gopi (Chand) academy (in Hyderabad). But for sure, safety takes precedence to everything else,” Reddy said.

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“Being an Olympic qualification year, we are motivated to chase a specific target to be there in Tokyo. Right now, after the world rankings were frozen, Ashwini and I are ranked No. 26. But we have a long way to go and hope to make the cut by doing well in the run-up to the Games,” she added.

Reddy said she is consistently working to be a much better player skill-wise, training smartly and understands the rotations better.

“Importantly, I am in touch with Ashwini through video chats to sort out any issue in my game. She is helpful as always and being a senior, her inputs are definitely invaluable,” she said.

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