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Too Optimistic to Call Ourselves a Dominant Force: Gopichand

India’s badminton coach also commented on if Saina Nehwal is ready to become the world’s top player once again.

Updated
Badminton
2 min read
Indian Badminton player Srikanth Kidambi along with his coach Pullela  Gopichand pose for photographs after returning from his Indonesian Open and Australian Open Super Series titles.
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Indian badminton has been on the ascendancy for quite some time now but a pragmatic chief national coach Pullela Gopichand believes that there is still a long way to go before the country can be termed as dominant force in the sport.

In the recent past, PV Sindhu won the silver medals at the Rio Olympic Games and World Championship along with multiple Super Series victories.

Saina Nehwal has made a successful comeback from injury with a World Championship bronze medal while Kidambi Srikanth has now won three Super series titles in one season.

Here’s what he said when asked if India had become world beaters in the sport.

I think we are being too optimistic. We as a system are not ready for that sort of a thing (moniker). Unfortunately, there are not many people, who understand world level sport and it is too early to say that. There is immense potential but the system, I think a lot still needs to be done.
Pullela Gopichand
India’s K. Srikanth hugs coach Pullela Gopichand after winning the India Open Badminton in March, 2015
India’s K. Srikanth hugs coach Pullela Gopichand after winning the India Open Badminton in March, 2015
(Photo: IANS)

The coach is happy with the progress though, during a year where Indian shuttlers have won six Super Series titles Apart from Srikanth's hat-trick, Sindhu has won two titles and B Sai Praneeth won one.

Overall it has been a good positive year. We had some very good performances at World Championship, Super series. In all the big events, we have performed well and I think it is a stepping stone for the next 2-3 years, leading upto the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, Olympic qualification and then the Tokyo Games.
Pullela Gopichand

A hectic year lies ahead for India as a host of big- ticket events, including Commonwealth Games, Asian games and World Championship lined up.

Asked how he plans to make the players peak at right tournament next year, Gopichand said:

We will have the periodization and planning for next year but it is going to be a challenge because there are too many important tournaments too close (to each other). There is All England and Commonwealth Games which are close to each other. Similarly, World Championship and Asian Games are close and then there are tons of other tournaments which decide the rankings, so it will be a challenge. It will be a difficult year but hopefully we will manage.
Pullela Gopichand

Saina has recently returned to Hyderabad to train under him after being under the guidance of Vimal Kumar in Bangalore for three years.

Former World No. 1 Saina has recovered from a career- threatening knee injury to win a bronze at World Championship in August.

Asked what would it take for Saina to regain her world no 1 ranking, Gopichand said:

There are lots of areas where she needs to work on. She has a lot of drive and eagerness and I am optimistic that God willing, we will be able to achieve it.
Pullela Gopichand

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