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Chirag Shetty's Tokyo Olympic preparations "on track" under Mathias Boe

Chirag Shetty is all geared up for Tokyo Olympics 2021
Chirag Shetty is all geared up for Tokyo Olympics 2021

The men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, one of India's brightest medal prospects for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, has been going full throttle at the SAI-Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.

Working alongside them for the last four months has been former world No. 1 of Denmark, Mathias Boe, whose enlistment as specialist doubles coach has been one of the best things to happen to Indian badminton amid the raging pandemic.

“Yes, our preparations are absolutely on track as far as the Tokyo Olympics are concerned. We are quite serious and fully focussed on the job at hand. We know what we have to do and what is expected of us. Our practice is going well daily in two sessions under the watchful eyes of Mathias Boe,” said Chirag Shetty from Hyderabad in an exclusive interview to Sportskeeda.

The 23-year-old has admitted that Boe's presence is certainly making a lot of difference in training sessions.

“He is an inspiration for all of us. Mathias’ physical presence on the sidelines of the court motivates us to give our hundred per cent,” added Chirag Shetty.

Mathias’ insights about the game are pretty helpful: Chirag Shetty

“Every session is productive with Mathias on court," explained Chirag Shetty. "His insights about the game are pretty helpful. His presence of mind while we play is absolutely spot-on. We always need someone who points out our flaws and rectifies them at that particular moment. With so much experience at his disposal, Mathias always eggs us to provide our best during the practice session.”

The six-foot-one-inch tall player sounded confident as they neared the business end of the training session before the Olympics.

“Satwik and I are feeling good about ourselves. We are striking a perfect combination in the practice matches. We are pitted against Krishna Prasad, Dhruv Kapila, Vishnu Goud, Sumeeth Reddy and MR Arjun for the training sessions. All five are very good doubles players and we get good sparring when we play against them. We all stay at the same place after training and are not allowed to move out because of prevailing lockdown,” added Chirag Shetty

London 2012 Olympic silver medallist in the men’s doubles, the 40-year-old Boe has added tremendous value to the Indian doubles team's coaching staff. The decision to rope him in was taken by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in January 2021.

Boe, along with Carsten Mogensen, was a force to be reckoned with in the doubles circuit. The former world No. 1 bagged the silver medal at London 2012 and went on to win laurels at the World Championships, All England Championships and Thomas Cup.

The world No. 10 pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy are delighted to have Boe on board. The former Denmark shuttler is quite comfortable working with the duo, having played with them in the Premier Badminton League earlier.

“I have played with him in Mumbai several times and he is a mentor, having guided me earlier. Working with him will definitely help us in the Olympic year. Getting to work with Boe will give us a huge psychological boost,” said Chirag Shetty.

Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy received the prestigious Arjuna Award in a virtual ceremony on August 29, 2020, making them the first Indian men’s doubles pair to earn the honor in badminton.

Read: "We aim to maintain a top-8 spot so that we get a favorable draw at the Olympics" - Chirag Shetty

When Tan Kim Her took charge of the Indian team as the first foreign specialist doubles coach in 2015, he spotted the extraordinary talent of teenage sensations Chirag and Satwik. The former Malaysian player immediately asked them to play together and groomed them with his vast experience.

Chirag Shetty, who hails from Mumbai, and Satwik from Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh, had excellent chemistry with the former Malaysian badminton player. Under him, the nation saw the pair thrive, winning a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He also helped India clinch mixed team gold for the first time, shocking hot favorites and higher-ranked Malaysia.

“Both Tan Kim Her and Mathias Boe are excellent coaches. There is no doubt about that. But it is not right to compare both of them. We were raw and young when we were guided by Tan Kim Her. Now we have matured as a combination and at this stage, we need someone who can understand both of us and direct us properly. I think Mathias Boe knows how to get the best results from us and we are lucky to have him with us at this crucial juncture of our career,” said Chirag Shetty.

The tall Indian combination of Chirag Shetty and Satwik created history by claiming the Thai Open Super 500 title (2019) and Hyderabad Open Super 100 (2018). The fast-rising pair also stormed into the final at the Syed Modi Super 300 tournament in Lucknow (2018) and the French Open (2019) to reach a career-best world ranking of seventh in 2019.

Hundreds of hours of practice together at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad during the national camps transformed the duo into a formidable force. While Satwik possesses lethal smashes, Chirag is a very swift mover on the court. Together, they stand to pose a potent challenge for the competition in Tokyo.

“It is only four months since Mathias Boe joined the Indian national doubles team. Out of that, one month we were away traveling to Europe to play the Swiss Open and All England Championship. We will be able to judge our performance better when we play more tournaments together under the guidance of Mathias Boe. I am sure when we would play in the Tokyo Olympics, the knowledge and experience of Mathias Boe would come in very handy for us while dealing with the formidable pairs,” said Chirag Shetty.

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Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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