India’s top players, including P V Sindhu, may be going through a rough patch, but national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand is hopeful of a best-ever Olympics outing in Tokyo.
“We have had some good performances in the last couple of Olympics. This time we will go into the Olympics with a world champion in our team (Sindhu), and hopefully, with some good preparation, we can come back with better performances than the previous Games,” said Gopichand.
Sindhu is currently the reigning women’s singles world champion having beaten Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the final at Basel, Switzerland in August last year.
Gopichand, who has produced two Olympic medallists -- Saina Nehwal (bronze in 2012) and Sindhu (silver in 2016) -- lauded the Government of India’s Khelo India Youth Games event, saying the initiative provides great exposure to young athletes of the country.
“An event like Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) which has all sports together gives a great exposure to athletes. It’s something I am very happy about. And in general, the Khelo India programme, whether it’s the scholarships or the accredited academies, helps in portraying a positive picture for sport,” he said.
The 46-year-old, who won the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham in 2001, said the experience of competing in KIYG will help young shuttlers immensely.
“I’ve been very lucky to watch the Delhi and Pune (Khelo India) Games. From a Khelo India Games perspective, I think what the Government of India is doing is very very impressive. It’s very nice for young athletes to get a chance to perform under top international conditions,” Gopi Chand said.
“This experience will help the youth in a big way. From an overall sporting culture perspective, I think this is unique.”
Talking about the attributes he looks for while spotting talent, Gopichand said: “Badminton is a very physical sport, but also very skill-based. For us, mental attitude and physical attributes play a very important role.
“When we look at young players, we look at their potential to play at the highest level coupled with the mental strength which is very important to perform at the highest level.”
The third edition of the competition will be held in Guwahati from January 10 to 22.
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