To hide strategies, Saina-Sindhu divide academies

Ace Indian shuttlers, Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu, start training at separate academies of national coach Gopichand ahead of the hectic calendar.

Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu (right) are still under the aegis of national coach Gopichand, who is dividing his time between the academies.   -  PTI


Fierce rivals on court, badminton stars Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu are training at separate academies of national coach Pullela Gopichand ever since their epic Commonwealth Games summit clash in Gold Coast, eager to ensure that neither of them gets a whiff of the other’s strategies and improvisations.

Both are still under the aegis of national coach Gopichand, who is dividing his time at two of his academies to train his most famous proteges. The development is a direct fallout of the CWG singles showdown in which Saina got the better of Sindhu in a gruelling contest.

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“Sindhu was not comfortable training at the new academy. Since it is an individual sport, there will always be competition, so to hold on to her own tactics, she decided to train at the old academy after the CWG,” Sindhu’s father PV Ramana said.

“If they train together, both will be able to gauge each other’s weaknesses and also how fit the other is, what each is working on, what difficulties they are facing.

“It is similar to how Saina had left the academy and trained under Vimal Kumar and then she again came back to the Gopichand academy after three years,” he added.

Two centres

Gopichand’s second training centre is about half a kilometre away from the old one. The players have been training at the new academy since it became operational a few years ago.

Asked about Sindhu’s training schedule and how she is managing her sparring partners, Ramana said: “Gopi trains her in morning from 7 to 8:30 and then two Indonesian coaches make her play. Then there are junior boys and doubles players. So I don’t think sparring is a problem.

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“As a sportsperson, you know what you want after a certain level. They are all mature players now, they know their mistakes and evolve their strategies.”

The Gold Coast loss was Sindhu’s third successive against the Saina, following defeats at the 2017 National championship final and 2018 Indonesia Open quarterfinal.

Rio Olympic Games silver-medallist Sindhu had to skip the mixed team event due to an ankle strain suffered ahead of the CWG and played only the individual event at Gold Coast.

The fitness factor

Asked if she was 100 per cent in the final, Ramana said: “If you are on court, you are 100 per cent. There will always be problems but you can’t give any excuses. Sindhu knows that win or loss is not permanent. It is a part and parcel of life and so one shouldn’t boast or give excuses.”

“She is fully fit now. We are taking care of her fitness. Sindhu’s physio Gayatri Shetty is also working with her. So her training is going on well.

“She will play the Malaysian Open this month and then Indonesia and Thailand but will skip the Singapore Open to train for World Championship in China before heading to the Asian Games,” added the Arjuna Awardee, who was part of the Indian volleyball team which won a bronze medal at the 1986 Asian Games.

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