Gopichand: Hats off to the new generation

At a function organised by PSU Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to felicitate its sports stars, Gopichand said: "Over 120 have qualified and to get a large contingent make the cut for the Olympics is in itself a big achievement."

National badminton coach P. Gopichand (centre) congratulated all the Indian athletes who have qualified for the Rio Olympics.   -  Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

National badminton coach P. Gopichand congratulated all the Indian athletes who have qualified for the Rio Olympics, starting on August 5.

At a function organised by PSU Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) to felicitate its sports stars, Gopichand said: “Over 120 have qualified and to get a large contingent make the cut for the Olympics is in itself a big achievement."

The former all-England championship winner was pleased with what Srikanth Kidambi had said. “It’s (taking part in Olympics) kind of dream for every sportsperson. Now that we have the chance to be at the Olympics, our aim is not to just to go there and play, but also win a medal."

Gopichand also pointed out the difference between players of his generation and the present generation: “I have been part of a number of Olympics. When we went for the Olympics or other international tournaments 90 per cent of the players would go out there to have an experience with big games. They will go out there collecting autographs and photographs and collect memorabilia.

“I think now, as Srikanth mentioned, the players go out there to win medals. That’s the big change. Hats off to the new generation who bring in that spirit which says that it’s just not important to go there to play, but it’s also important to win a medal. Anything short of that, they are not happy. God willing we will come back with medals."

Tournament practice isn’t necessary

Sania Mirza’s women’s doubles partner at the Rio Olympics, 22-year-old Prarthana Thombare said it’s not necessary to play together in tournaments leading upto the Olympics.

"The last time I played with her was in the Fed Cup this year. I think the plus point I have is that I practise in her academy and her father is my coach. Whenever we plan our tournaments, we end up coming back to India at the same time and we practise together. So it’s not necessary that we would want tournament (practice) before the Olympics.”