When Gayatri Gopichand shot into the limelight by representing the country at the 2018 Asian Games as a 15-year-old, she forced the badminton world to take notice of her immense talent.
From being the youngest badminton player to representing the nation at the prestigious Asian Games, to establishing herself gradually into the tough badminton world, Gayatri has come a long way.
Gayatri, who is carrying the legacy of her celebrated family, will add another feather to her illustrious cap when she represents India at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XXII Commonwealth Games and commonly known as Birmingham 2022, is scheduled to be held in England from July 28 to August 8.
The only difference between the 2018 Asian Games and the 2022 Commonwealth Games is that Gayatri has changed her playing discipline.
Having played singles then, Gayatri has now opted to play doubles. Gayatri and Treesa Jolly of Kerala will be the women’s doubles pair for India. The 19-year-old duo earned their place in the side on the basis of their outstanding performance in the national trials held in April.
The young pair of Gayatri and Treesa remained unbeaten in the selection trials in New Delhi to clinch a spot in the 10-member Indian team.
Gayatri, daughter of the legendary Pullela Gopichand and former Olympian PVV Lakshmi, spared some time from her busy schedule to speak exclusively with Sportskeeda. She said, talking about her transformation into a doubles player:
“I enjoy playing singles and doubles, but at this level playing both events will be tough. That was the reason I decided to play doubles as I enjoy playing it."
Opting to play doubles after doing so well in the singles earlier had raised several eyebrows and even surprised badminton experts.
However, Gayatri knew what she was doing and proved her decision correct by excelling in the division.
Teenage pair Gayatri and Treesa shocked formidable Indian counterparts and World No. 25 Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy to establish themselves as the new force for India in the women’s doubles.
We are preparing well for the Commonwealth Games: Gayatri Gopichand
Gayatri Gopichand is undergoing a preparatory coaching camp in Hyderabad before she leaves for Birmingham next week along with the other members of the squad.
“Treesa and I have been preparing well for the Commonwealth Games. Our coaches and trainers have really helped and we are hoping for a good performance at the Commonwealth Games."
Gayatri and Treesa have performed exceptionally in 2022. After starting the year with a terrific performance at the Syed Modi International BWF World Tour Super 300 tournament, by finishing as the runners-up, Gayatri and Treesa didn't look back.
A couple of weeks later, they won the Odisha Open Super 100 tournament, beating their compatriots Sanyogita Ghorpade and Shruti Mishra 21-17, 21-16.
Gayatri became the first Indian women’s doubles specialist to make the semi-finals of the All England Open 21 years after her father's feat. Pullela Gopichand won the men’s singles title at the All England in 2001, while his daughter Gayatri made him proud by reaching the women’s doubles semis two decades later.
After giving up singles, Gayatri teamed up with Treesa in 2020. After the initial hiccups, the Telangana-Kerala pair started to make rapid strides in their division.
Last year, Gayatri and Treesa edged past Tanisha Crasto and Rutaparna Panda in the India International Challenge tournament in Bengaluru to claim their maiden doubles title together.
They continued their excellent form by finishing runners-up at the Polish International and Welsh International later in 2021.
In Birmingham, Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly will play the crucial women’s doubles in the mixed team event. As India will be defending the title, their performance is crucial to the ultimate outcome of the team event.
We aim to give our best performance and bag a medal for the country: Gayatri Gopichand
The World No. 39 pair of Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly will also try their best to win a medal in the individual events.
“The Commonwealth Games are going to be tough events with every country sending its best teams who will be well prepared for the event. We are hoping that we give the best performance and hopefully that results in a medal for the country.”
Gayatri Gopichand, who was part of the national team that clinched the women’s team gold medal at the 2019 South Asian Games, also won silver in the singles event.
Her eyes are now set on winning a medal for the country at the Commonwealth Games. With specialist doubles coach Mathias Boe of Denmark added to the support staff a couple of months ago, she is getting some valuable tips from him also.
She also acknowledged the help of regular doubles coaches Arun Vishnu, Vijaydeep Singh, and Miftah.
Speaking about the coaches, Gayatri said:
“Mathias Boe has been a great help. He along with Arun Vishnu, coach Miftah, and Vijaydeep Singh have been consistently helping us. With Boe’s vast experience, it will definitely be of great help in tournaments and also during practice sessions. His inputs were very valuable."
Experts believe if Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly play to their full potential, they have a chance to finish on the podium. They proved their prowess at the All England Championship earlier this year. If they can produce the same performance, then anything is possible in Birmingham.