World Badminton Championships 2017: "Two medals is good, but not enough," says Pullela Gopichand
He feels that had things gone India's way, more medals were on offer in the doubles and men's singles categories.
India's badminton stars created history at the recently-concluded World Badminton Championships 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland as they returned with a haul of two medals from the flagship event, thanks to Saina Nehwal's bronze and PV Sindhu's silver in the women's singles category.
It was the first time that two shuttlers from the nation stood on the podium at the Worlds, but according to chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, who is regarded as the architect of India's incredible surge in the sport, the players could have done better and won even more medals from the event.
"Our players performed excellently and it shows the progress we have made in the recent times. However, there were a few near misses for us and had things gone our way, we could have done even better," said Gopichand, in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.
While he was happy with the overall showing of the players, he was quick to add that medals in the men's singles and doubles event were not far away. "We could have had more medals in the doubles as we missed out on match point opportunities and could have possibly done more there," he said.
India had sent its largest ever contingent at the event and the shuttlers were expected to perform well, given the rapid rise that the sport has seen in the country. Srikanth Kidambi, who was one of the title contenders in the men's singles category, bowed out in the quarterfinals after losing out to World No. 1 Son Wan Ho, an opponent he had defeated in their last two meetings. He lost in straight games 21-14 21-18 in a hard-fought encounter.
However, Gopichand feels that like in the doubles, Srikanth could have won the match and assured India of a medal had some things worked in his favour. "Srikanth was unlucky in some aspects and could have won the quarterfinal on another day," said Gopichand. But he was quick to add that a haul of two medals is a decent result but it would have been better.
PV Sindhu won silver after losing out in an energy-sapping final against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara, which ended 21-19 20-22 22-20 after nearly two hours of play that put both players' stamina levels to the test. In the semifinal, the shuttler from Japan had defeated Saina Nehwal in another three-game humdinger that saw her stage an epic fight back. The match ended 12-21 21-17 21-10 in favour of Okuhara, as Nehwal had to settle for bronze, adding to her tally of silver she had won in 2015.
He hailed Sindhu's showing and said that the gold medal is quite within reach. "Sindhu's achievement is unprecedented and even though it will be a tough loss to swallow initially, it is truly remarkable what she has achieved. Next year, she will definitely go for gold," Gopichand said, signing off.