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It’s my duty to help Saina Nehwal: Pullela Gopichand

Gopichand and Nehwal's partnership brought India the London Olympics bronze medal in 2012

FEATURED COLUMNIST
News 10 Mar 2018, 14:08 IST
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pullela gopichand saina nehwal
Pullela Gopichand (left) and Saina Nehwal

What’s the story?

Indian shuttle queen, Saina Nehwal’s return to the Pullela Gopichand Academy has failed to take off the way she would have liked with a few injuries and early defeats rearing their ugly head. But the chief national coach remains fully committed to helping the 27-year-old Nehwal find a way out of those troubles.

At the India Today Conclave 2018 in Mumbai on Friday, Gopichand spoke about his pupil, whom he took to the Olympic bronze medal in 2012.

“As a coach it’s my duty to help the player and I’ve known Saina for many years. Whatever I can do to help her I will do,” he promised.

In case you didn’t know

After claiming the bronze at the World Championships last year, the former World No. 1 reunited with her old mentor. She did show flashes of brilliance and went on to upset the Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the first round of the Denmark Open, but failed to sustain the momentum thereafter.

However, Nehwal made a better start to the 2018 season and reached the final of the Indonesia Masters in her first tournament of the year.

The heart of the matter

The coach extraordinaire, who has churned out talents like Saina, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth, also spoke at length about how every win of his students gives him immense happiness.

“Not only with Sindhu and Srikanth but every student of mine when they win the district or state championships that gives me a lot of satisfaction and fulfilment. And of course when something big happens I am supremely happy,” he said.

But Gopichand was also quick to add that he is not satisfied yet as he wants his wards to “conquer everything”.

What’s next?

Nehwal will be seen in action next week at the prestigious All England Championships where she has a tough opener against the top seed and World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying.

Author’s take

If there is anyone who can help Nehwal become the player she once was, then it is none other than Gopichand. Their partnership brought countless laurels for the country and put badminton in the spotlight.

Having dominated the elite circuit for more than a decade, Nehwal might have lost her speed and sharpness a bit, but there’s no denying that the hunger still remains the same.

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