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Pullela Gopichand laments the lost year for athletes but is hoping for a quick revival post-pandemic

Pullela Gopichand (centre) with PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth
Pullela Gopichand (centre) with PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth
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Suhas Nayse

Pullela Gopichand is always concerned about the players. The chief national badminton coach Gopichand is worried about the players’ mental state of affairs amid the pandemic.

Gopichand was apprehensive about the post-pandemic approach of the players since the life span of sporting careers is short compared to other professions. He said that many careers last from 30 to 40 years, but a sporting career lasts for just 10 years.

“We have lost one crucial year due to a pandemic. But the good news is that sports are coming back in full swing at all levels. It is the best thing to have happened if we were able to see all the players back in action soon,” said Gopichand.

The 2001 All England Championships winner said this while addressing a press conference along with Uma Chigurupati, Chairperson of FICCI Ladies Organization, before the beginning of his talks with FLO members at ITC Kohinoor in Madhapur, Hyderabad on Saturday.

“When you are at the peak of your career, the career doesn’t last beyond a couple of years. The pandemic disrupted the short careers of many sports personnel. It is depressing. Fortunately for sports personnel, defeats, setbacks and failures are part and parcel of their life. This has now come to their forte now. It has given them time to work on their weaknesses. Catch up with what they always longed for,” said Gopichand.

As for the expansion of his Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy, he said they will soon have six new courts with air conditioned facilities.

“We are building six new courts at my Gachibowli Academy, thanks to the support from the Kotak Organization. We are also building a Sports Science Center and a Coach Development Center to take up the coaching pan India as there is abundant talent,” said Gopichand.

The 47-year-old reputed coach was pleased with the preparations of Indian shuttlers for the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are in full swing: Gopichand

PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth in the singles while men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy will represent the country at the Summer Games, which will be held in the Japanese capital from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

“Preparations for the Olympics are in full swing. The Central Government has provided personal coaches and the state government has opened Gachibowli Stadium with facilities for us to practice and we thank them. We are confident of better performance,” said Gopichand.

He is happy that the Olympics are finally happening after a year-long delay. Thousands of athletes from all over the world have been preparing for it for the last several years.

“The Tokyo Olympics, delayed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, are now scheduled to be held from July 23, which is a big boost to all the sports personnel. We are all looking forward to it. I am optimistic about the good performance from all our players,” he concluded.

PV Sindhu, who joined Gopichand Academy around a decade back, won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She lost to Spain’s Carolina Marin in the final. The defending champion Marin suffered an ankle injury last month and has pulled out of the Tokyo Games.


Edited by Rohit Mishra
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