The crack men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy is now hoping to avail the services of a new foreign coach in their Olympic preparation after sudden exit of Indonesian Flandy Limpele.
Limpele was appointed till the Tokyo Olympics which has been deferred by one year due to global COVID-19 pandemic.
However, last month, Limpele had stepped down as India’s doubles coach, citing family reasons, becoming the fourth such foreign coach to have resigned without completing the tenure.
Chirag said the Olympics postponement will now give them more time to deal with the departure of Limpele, who was specifically hired to prepare them for the Tokyo Games.
“We will definitely get more time to prepare now. Since it is more than a year, so I believe we will get a new foreign coach. If Olympics would have happened this year, then we wouldn’t have got since for 3-4 months it wouldn’t make sense. But now, BAI might get one to help us,” Chirag told PTI .
Satwik said the departure of Limpele in the Olympic year was a big worry.
“It is a worry for us because he (Limpele) left us before the Olympics. He is an experienced coach, he used to give us inputs in every match and we trusted him a lot. Since he left we didn’t know what to do, what program to follow.
“But now we have a year, so hopefully we will get a new coach and again we will have to adjust to the new regime. So in a way, we got lucky with this postponement.”
Badminton Association of India (BAI) general secretary Ajay Singhania said they will try to rope in a new foreign coach once things return to normal.
“With the Olympic postponement, we are keen to get a doubles coach in order to strengthen the coaching staff. However, we have to wait for the lockdown to get over first so that we can discuss the issue with SAI and Sports Ministry,” said Ajay K. Singhania, General Secretary, BAI.
“I have already had a telephonic discussion with National Coach P. Gopichand and once COVID-19 situation batters off we will take this up.”
Chirag and Satwik, the Commonwealth Games silver medallists, were the first Indian men’s doubles pair to win a Super 500 in Thailand and also reached the finals of Super 750 event at French Open last year. It also helped them to break into the top 10.
“If an experienced coach like comes on board, it will make a big difference,” said Chirag, who has taken to painting to spend time during this 21-day lockdown which has been put in place to fight the spread of coronavirus.
“Now we are almost there, it is a matter of 2-3 points, say we are 90 percent there and a really good coach like for example Rexy Mainaky, who is the head coach of Thailand would give us that extra 10 percent. A high-calibre coach can help us get into world’s top 3.”
Mainaky, a 1996 Atlanta Olympic gold medallist is one of the famous pair with other being Ricky Subagja.
Satwik said: “We have coaches like Dwi Kristiawan and Namrih Suroto, who can make a program for us. Namrih used to handle us when Flandy was not available and we have been training with Dwi too, so they are also well-equipped to help us.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made it clear that “all of the qualifications that have been achieved by National Olympic Committees and individual athletes remain in place” despite the Games being postponed.
“It is a big relief. Now the athletes who have qualified for Olympics, can relax and concentrate on the preparation for the Games without any pressure,” said the 19-year-old Satwik.
“For us, we are not sharp enough, especially in the crucial situation, so we have to work on those areas.”
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