Sports Minister felicitates shuttlers, coaches

Well-rehearsed lines were delivered and eventually, it turned out to be nothing more than a “photo-opportunity” for the host with the country’s badminton stars.

Sports Minister Vijay Goel felicitates badminton players Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth and their coaches P. Gopichand and Vimal Kumar at a function in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Rain played the spoilsport but the show went on. To recognise the medal-winning performances of P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal at the World badminton championship last weekend, Sports Minister Vijay Goel played the host for the two ladies, K. Srikanth, P. Gopichand and Vimal Kumar on Thursday afternoon.

Well-rehearsed lines were delivered and eventually, it turned out to be nothing more than a “photo-opportunity” for the host with the country’s badminton stars. The large number of mediapersons were not allowed the ask questions to the players and coaches.

Amidst ample indications that the cold war between Gopi and Saina was over, Vimal picked his high-point of the year. He recalled the two Indians playing the men’s final of a super series event (Singapore Open). Describing badminton as the “second most popular sport in the country,” Vimal acknowledged, “We are getting a lot of support from the Government.”

A little earlier, Gopi went on to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sports Minister for their support to badminton. Sindhu, Saina and Srikanth took turns to express their gratitude to the host.

Given the active monsoon this year in the Capital, the idea to hold an outdoor function was always going to be risky. And the Sports Ministry was not lucky on this day.

Nearly half an hour after the scheduled time, Vimal and Srikanth arrived ahead of others. Precisely at this moment, the light drizzle turned into a downpour. Over 100 mediapersons, including a good number from the electronic media, decided enough was enough.

They hurriedly took care of their cameras, tripods etc and rushed to the main building, scampering from the lawns where they had waited patiently.

Not surprisingly, utter chaos reigned at the verandah of Sports Minister’s residence. Soon Sindhu arrived, accompanied by her father, just ahead of Saina and Gopi. They had to find their way past the packed verandah to reach the living room where Mr. Goel was in the company of Srikanth and Vimal.

A few minutes later, in a small adjoining hall, the ritual of the “felicitation function’ took place. The host was happy and those honoured, with a small trophy, were not complaining. But given the fact that this function was to hail country’s unprecedented twin-medal performance in the World championship, it fell well short of expectations.