Indian badminton doubles coach exudes confidence

While the cut-off date for qualifying for the Rio Olympics is April 30, Indian badminton’s doubles coach, Tan Kim Her, is confident that Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa (women) and Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy (men) will make the grade.

Indian badminton doubles coach Tan Kim Her interacts with Jwala Gutta (left) and Ashwini Ponappa in Shillong.   -  M. Moorthy

With time running out for qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics, India’s badminton doubles coach Tan Kim Her says the country has “80 per cent chance” of making the grade.

“My first priority is to ensure that the two pairs— Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa (women) and Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy (men) — qualify for Rio. We are on the right track,” he said on the sidelines of the 12th South Asian Games here on Monday.

While the cut-off date for qualifying for the Olympics is April 30, Tan said the teams are training hard, and with a slew of tournaments scheduled until April, India looks likely to qualify.

While the Jwala-Ashwini pair is ranked No. 13 in the world, the men’s team of Manu and Sumeeth is World No. 20. “If we can improve our rankings further, to around 10-12, we are certain to qualify,” the Malaysian told Sportstar.

According to Jwala, after the arrival of Tan (in September last year), there is a certain structure, systematic programme and scheduling of tournaments. “We feel more safe now. There is clear communication. Thanks to Tan, I have improved my fitness,” she said.

Ashwini said it is too early to comment on the efficacy of the Malaysian’s training. “Definitely it has given us confidence and motivation. We can get a clear idea only after some time,” she said.

On the duo’s chances of winning a medal in Rio, Ashwini said, “Who would have given us a chance of winning the gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the bronze in the 2011 World Championships? Anything can happen. We are positive and confident.”

Speaking of the Jwala-Ashwini combination, Tan said both are good in certain ways, but added, “Ashwini is physically strong but has to improve her front play, while Jwala has good experience but needs to improve on her movements.”

Tan said his dream is to produce world-class players in doubles. “I am confident that I can do it because Indians are committed and disciplined. My dream is to see India do well in doubles in the 2020 Olympics,” he said.

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