Why am I not in national camp for Olympics, asks Parupalli Kashyap

The 33-year-old, a former world No. 6, insisted that he too has an outside chance of qualifying for the Tokyo Games, but has no way to pursue it as he can’t train at the camp.

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Former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap has questioned his omission from the ongoing national badminton camp.   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR

Former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap on Tuesday questioned his omission from the ongoing national badminton camp in Hyderabad, saying that restricting it to just eight Olympic hopefuls is “illogical.”

The 33-year-old, a former world No. 6, insisted that he too has an outside chance of qualifying for the Tokyo Games, but has no way to pursue it as he can’t train at the camp.

“I have a couple of questions regarding the camp. I find it illogical to allow only eight people to train. Also, how are these eight Olympic hopefuls, because I think only three have almost confirmed their slots and the rest have an outside chance, including (Kidambi) Srikanth and the women’s doubles pair,” Kashyap said.

“I am ranked 23rd in the world ranking after Sai (B. Sai Praneeth) and Srikanth, then why haven’t I been considered?” he asked.

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The Sports Authority of India (SAI) had allowed the resumption of training at the SAI-Pullela Gopichand Academy from August 7 following the Telangana government’s approval on August 1.

Kashyap, who along with wife and fellow shuttler Saina Nehwal has been training at a separate facility near the academy, said he shared his thoughts with SAI but didn’t get a satisfactory response.

“Gopi bhaiya (Pullela Gopichand) advised me to speak to SAI as they made the list. So I spoke to the SAI DG (director-general) and asked him what is the logic behind it? Why am I not in the camp? Who decided that we don’t have a chance to qualify when seven-eight tournaments are still left?” he said.

“A day later, a SAI assistant director called me and said this is a directive which has come from higher officials and they have spoken to BAI (Badminton Association of India) and SAI, who believe only these people have a chance to qualify which I found to be strange,” he added.

“I was told that only eight people will train till the Tokyo Games to keep the Olympic hopefuls safe. Now no one is staying at the centre. All are using gyms at different centres. They are meeting people outside. So I don’t understand their explanation of keeping them safe.”

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Kashyap reiterated that the SAI-Gopichand academy is equipped with enough courts to accommodate more players.

“The national centre has nine courts and currently only four people are training. There are nine coaches and two physios for four players who are training for a maximum of two-and-a-half hours.

“So, the rest of the time the court is empty. Why can’t other players train for the rest of the time? It makes no sense to me,” he said.

“Everywhere else all are training together. In Bangalore, Lakshya (Sen), who also has an outside chance like me, is training with the rest. If I can’t train at the camp, how will I pursue Olympic qualification?”

World champion P. V. Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth and women’s doubles player N. Sikki Reddy have resumed training under strict safety protocols at the Gopichand academy, ending a four-month-long coronavirus-forced hiatus.

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Among the other Olympic hopefuls, the men’s doubles pairing of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, who are currently in Mumbai and Amalapuram (Andhra Pradesh), respectively, are wary of the COVID-19 threat and have decided to wait for a few more days before deciding on joining the camp.

Women’s doubles player Ashwini Ponnappa, who partners Sikki Reddy in the international circuit, will join if there is enough clarity on the international calendar. The Bangalore-based shuttler is currently training at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy.

India’s next assignment is the twice-rescheduled Thomas and Uber Cup finals, which is slated to be held from October 3 to 11 in Aarhus, Denmark.

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