Gopichand: a great mentor for Sindhu

P. Gopichand has the credit of training two Olympic medallists — bronze medallist Saina Nehwal in 2012 and now P. V. Sindhu in Rio.

Sindhu and Gopichand... a brilliant partnership.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

He is always keen to see his trainees achieve better results than what he did as a player.

This is the trait which makes India’s chief badminton national coach and former All-England champion, P. Gopichand, one of the most respected and successful coaches in India’s sporting history.

And, now Gopi has the credit of training two Olympic medallists — bronze medallist Saina Nehwal in 2012 and now P. V. Sindhu in Rio.

READ: >It's silver for Sindhu

A believer in destiny, he does his job and expects others to do theirs. There was a lot of planning from Gopi before the big medal hopes — K. Srikanth and Sindhu — left for Rio.

The men’s and women’s doubles players trained at his old academy set up in 2008 and the singles players at the new one commissioned in coordination with the Sports Authority of India.

READ: >Sindhu on 'cloud nine'

And, one of the unpublicised aspects of the now famous Gopi-Sindhu combine was the battle Gopi has had to wage after Saina preferred to train under Vimal Kumar in Bengaluru in 2014.

"Gopi was distraught then. Yes, there was a feeling of disgust too. But, he was more determined later," says a close family member of Gopi on condition of anonymity even as the celebrations were on at the academy after Sindhu entered the final in Rio.

Also read: >Sindhu's parents and their sacrifice

"Only we know the kind of sacrifices we have had to make to see that Gopi's passion for coaching doesn’t diminish. But, we all take pride in being part of his scheme of things to produce champions,” says the champion coach’s wife Lakshmi, also a shuttler, who represented India in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Even Gopi’s seven-year-old son, Vishnu, was there daily at 4.30 a.m. to help Sindhu in dribbles at the academy — as revealed by Sindhu’s father P. V. Ramana.

“It is not that I focus on my job with a vengeance. I am keen to ensure that all the trainees are in the comfort zone and am naturally giving more attention to the fringe players on the verge of stardom after months of scientific training,” Gopi said recently.

But, despite all the unease in his own backyard, Gopi never uttered a single word which would hurt anybody.

And, when the coach and Sindhu return home, Gopi cannot be faulted for moving around the academy with a sense of pride in the company of the second Olympic medallist from there. “Sindhu’s Olympic medal cannot be the end. We want many more like her from this academy to make the country proud,” says Gopi’s mother Subbaravamma, who is closely involved in the running of the two academies.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.