What’s the story?
India’s chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand blames the inordinately high number of matches for the recent poor performances of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. With just a few months to go for the Olympics, both players are in a tedious race to qualify for the quadrennial event.
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Sindhu became the first Indian to win a Badminton World Championship gold, by beating Nozomi Okuhara in the 2019 final. Nehwal, on the other hand, has represented India three times in the Olympics, bagging a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The heart of the matter
Nehwal and Sindhu have been struggling with their form for quite some time now. The badminton stars are under tremendous pressure to perform well so that they can participate in the 2020 Olympic Games.
In that context, Gopichand was quoted as saying to the Times of India:
"They (Sindhu and Nehwal) are struggling. We haven’t had great wins in the last few months. I think they are playing a lot more. May-July gives them enough time to recover and be mentally ready."
"They have been playing one tournament after another. For Saina, it has been difficult. If she qualifies, those last three months will be very crucial," he further added.
Gopichand also said that there are high expectations from the fans for the two players to consistently perform well and be at the top. Winning finals is all that is considered an achievement for them nowadays, given their long list of past laurels.
Gopichand, who is heavily involved in the strengthening of India's sports ecosystem, believes there should be a system in which players are trained in specific aspects such as handling fame, criticism and success. He believes both Nehwal and Sindhu have the potential to clinch a medal at the Olympics, but only time time will tell whether they live up to his expectations.