Indian badminton head coach Pullela Gopichand announces national badminton scholarship program
Bengaluru, Jun 17 Indian badminton head coach Pullela Gopichand on Thursday announced a national scholarship program at The Sports School here.
Under the chief mentorship of Gopichand, The Sports School Badminton Academy with technical partner Badminton Gurukul has come together to provide the best training methods to students to groom their willingness to play the sport and turn it into a full-fledged profession, a media release said.
Up to 100 per cent scholarships will be awarded to students who have the drive and talent to succeed in the sport, without compromising on their academics.
"Badminton Gurukul is an initiative that has been started with the idea to promote physical literacy and create positive playing experiences through quality coaching imparted in an organized and systematic manner," Gopichand said.
"This is a professional academy that will be providing training at the beginner, intermediate and professional levels and at the same time ensuring full-fledged guidance for the young badminton enthusiasts," he added.
Students will be selected for the scholarship, which will cover the academic and sport fees, on the basis of their rankings and achievements, followed by trials.
Up to five students per year will receive 100 per cent and 25-75 per cent scholarship.
The selection committee includes Gopichand, Sankar and founder and MD of Badminton Gurukul Supriya Devgun. News source PTI
Thinking outside the box will get more women into the sports ecosystem - Aditi Mutatkar, Program Head, Simply Sport
Sports is not just a profession for elite athletes to gain worldwide fame, recognition, it’s a lifestyle that teaches valuable life skills that equips children to deal with the challenges of life. From setbacks, fighting spirit, humility, teamwork and integrity, sports encompass all these qualities and more. That’s why every child deserves a fair opportunity in participating and learning from sports.
Few others are bigger believers of fair opportunities and female participation in sports than Aditi Mutatkar, 5 time national badminton champion who has represented India at the World Championships, Asian and Commonwealth Games and has made into the badminton news innumerable times. In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Aditi speaks about the beginning of her badminton journey, overcoming challenges, special achievements, female participation in sports, importance of mental health and her advice for young athletes.
Q 1) How did your journey in badminton begin and what motivated you to take up the sport professionally? Did you also face any challenges?
I began playing at the age of nine and I lived in Bombay at that time. My father used to play badminton as a hobby and he would take me out to play because I was a hyperactive kid and my parents didn’t know how to use my energy and considered sport as a good option. I started playing with him and it started with outdoor badminton at the beginning and I picked it up pretty well from day 1. That’s where my parents thought that I might have a spark to pick up the sport. My father enrolled me in some competitions and I reached the semifinals of one of my first tournaments without any formal training. That’s where my parents decided that I should get professional training and see how it goes. My professional training began at Andheri Sports Complex during my summer holidays and after training for two months my coach suggested that I enter into a state tournament. I won that tournament and that’s how it started for me. From there on I kept winning more often and it made me realize that badminton is a sport that I want to play seriously.
My father was a banker, my mother was a school teacher at that time and I have a younger sister as well, so in the beginning it was tough financially for a young family in Bombay because a sport like badminton has expensive racquets, coaching is expensive and one shuttle is 75 rupees. It was tough financially until I landed a job with Bharat Petroleum at the age of 16 but the first two years of financing my career made my parents move to Pune from Bombay as it was cheaper. That was a major challenge at the beginning of my career.
Q 2) You have competed in a number of international tournaments, representing India. Which is your most special achievement so far?
The Bitburger Open Final in 2008 was a very important tournament for me because it was the first Grand Prix event that I played a final in. Only Saina (Nehwal) had played a final in such an event so that was an important achievement for me individually. As a team event, the Commonwealth Games silver medal that we won in Delhi where I contributed by playing the women’s singles with Saina. Being a part of that team and winning the silver medal, having never won it before was a historic achievement. These two are my major accomplishments that I feel happy about.
Q 3) You are the head of women in sports department at Simply Sport Foundation, what is your focus area and how do you plan to achieve it?
If we speak specifically about the women in sport initiative, the idea is to firstly approach it in a very methodical way. It starts with doing proper research about what is really going on at the grassroot level with regards to participation in sports for women. We don’t just want to look at athletes participation but the ecosystem in general. If you look at the numbers at an administrative level, coaches, support staff then you will notice there are a lot fewer women as compared to men. The idea is to first understand the problem which is not that easy at the India level. India is a complicated country and every part of it brings its own set of problems. The North East is completely different culturally as compared to the west. We have to understand the issues at every level on a country wide scale to come up with solutions that make sense. The idea is to first do an extensive research project, come up with a report and have objective recommendations which can actually be implemented rather than something theoretical. Once we do that, we will be able to come up with specific programmes for specific geographies in India which can help get more women into the sports ecosystem.
Q 4) We have seen young girls, especially in rural India, face immense social challenges while taking up sports. What needs to be done to encourage more girls/women to be involved in sports?
We have to lead by example, for example: if you look at Manipur as one of the states that do really well in sports despite not having a proper structure in place, I believe it comes from the fact that they don’t have a patriarchal society. They have football tournaments for ordinary mothers who come and play and I think the culture makes a lot of difference. If you have your own mothers, middle aged women actively playing on the grounds, it makes a difference in how a young girl or boy looks at sports. Especially when it comes to rural girls, it’s the mothers who will have to take up the challenge and start pushing themselves in some way or another into sports. It’s a dream to see more women on the grounds which is not just a rural issue but an urban one as well. You don’t see many women playing at Shivaji Park in Dadar compared to men, so it’s a huge expectation to see more mothers and middle aged women playing sports. The other issue in rural areas is that it’s very difficult for mothers to send their daughters because there is always an issue of public safety as there is an issue with transport systems. Having a playground or a center is not enough, there also needs to be safe transport to take them to and fro. There are many things that can be done but we need proper research that is geography and area specific. It cannot be a central research that’s applicable all over India because it will just not work, India is too complicated in that sense. We have to think outside the box but these could be some of the ways of getting girls to play first, as that’s the first step towards entering the ecosystem and then making a career.
Q 5) As someone who believes in giving children a fair opportunity in sports, what is required to make India a sporting nation?
It's quite a difficult question but I think we are getting better. Women are watching more sports than ever and taking keen interest in sports as evident by various studies done on broadcast. There is also a rise in awareness in terms of fitness as you now see people hitting the road, running and cycling. I think for us to become a sporting nation, the first thing is to get more girls to play because half of India's population consists of females and if they are not participating and are confined only to the kitchen it won't help. By participation, I don't just mean competitive participation but in the form of a lifestyle. For example, in Manipur you see boys and girls playing football and it isn't considered a big deal there which you still don't see happening even in big cities. This has to stop and should become a norm to have as many girls and women on the playground playing shoulder to shoulder with boys. Another way of looking at this would be having sports in schools including the government ones as well. I have had some experience working with the government schools at the grassroot level when I used to work with Art of Play Foundation before Simply Sport. We used to make curriculums for them regarding physical education and I have seen how physical education is looked at that level. Even if you look at our sports policy and all of those things, we are so much about the competition that we have lost sight of sport as a way of life. Until sports becomes a way of life we cannot become a country with a culture of sports. We have millions and millions of children in schools today, more in the government schools than the private schools therefore, till sports don't reach there and we don't have proper curriculum and proper access of sports to the population especially in rural India, things won't change. I think schools are the best ways to get more and more young people to participate in sports, making it a way of life for them and giving them the access to sport not just in a competitive way but as a part of their life. Hence I feel schools are one of the ways to make sure sports reach more and more people. Also, it is important to get more girls into playing as 50% of the population not playing is definitely an issue. We are already into leagues and such things are slowly coming up in India and I feel it's something really great because it's not just a way of supporting local talent which otherwise would go unnoticed but also a way of making revenues and making it profitable for everyone involved. Therefore I feel things like that could help but it's a deep philosophical question we need to first define culture before we solve this issue but things like these could help.
Q 6) How important of a role does mental health play, not just in achieving a favourable result but also for keeping the spirit high while recuperating from injuries and setbacks?
Mental health is very crucial and you have to be open to it as well. Lots of athletes are actually just not open to putting themselves up for it but I think it's very important. Also, especially when you are going through injuries or downtime in any way when it comes to sport mental health actually plays a very important role. Yes there is professional mental help that you should avail but also the support ecosystem of the athlete is extremely important. The conversation you have with your parents and friends along with the kind of support system that you build around yourself as an athlete is quite important. I think if the channels are open there, it makes a lot of things easier. For example when I was injured I kept my channels with my friends and parents open and was able to discuss anxiety and other things with them. My friends were there with me to keep my spirits high and give me a distraction in a way where I could come back from that positively. I think the ecosystem that athletes build around them and keeping that positive is extremely important in addition to of course the professional counselling that is now more easily available. Mental health is crucial and especially in the times we live in, there are so many pressures that teenagers go through now more than when I was a teenager because there is constant comparison and social media. The money in sports that has come now because of the sponsorships has also led to comparisons such as who is doing what and who is getting what in terms of financial support. I feel athletes today have added pressure compared to when we were teenagers making the issue of mental health all more important.
Q 7) What would be your advice to aspiring athletes? Do you think there should be a lesser focus on ‘winning’ and more emphasis on enjoying the journey?
Yes. I have been there as an athlete when I had compared myself to the next best or to the fact that I was number two to Saina (Nehwal) for a long time as a junior and then as a senior as well. It's extremely difficult to be at the number two position and to still keep a very objective understanding of your own self but I truly believe that you have to enjoy the journey when you are at it rather than looking back at it and saying I could have done it in a better way. Yes, winning is extremely important in sport. I would lie if I say it's great to be number two, no it's never great to be number two. You always work towards being the number one but I would also say that being number two is not as bad at all. It still means a lot and I know the way society looks at all these things but it's very difficult in sports to be at number two or three in the country and it's not a small achievement. Every athlete will have their own journey and till you respect your journey and your achievement it is extremely difficult to find respect on the other side. What happens is if you are number one or number two, the way society will look at you will keep changing all the time. When you are number one they will try to pull you down and when you are at two they will belittle you. It's just that people around you will always have something to say so it's very important to have that own assessment of yourself that too a very objective one. I remember as a junior athlete I would always find myself saying 'hey Saina has become World Number ten and I'm World number thirty and it's not good and if she is at ten I should be atleast number eleven' which was so wrong because I was still world number thirty and there are not many athletes in badminton who have reached that level but at that time there was nobody to tell me that and make me realise the potential of what I was achieving at that point of time even if I was not Saina. Therefore I feel it's extremely important to enjoy your journey and as an athlete you will see it whenever you stop playing and when you come out of it as an athlete you will realise you are so much more equipped than anybody else to cope with things that are going to come to you because sports teaches you so many things. There are too many life lessons that you learn and if you are aware of that and you respect that, you will succeed after that journey of being an athlete as well. You have to start respecting wherever you are. Of course, work at being the best you can be but compare yourself to yourself as much as possible rather than the next player out there. It's important to enjoy the journey and have self respect and have a very objective assessment of your own career rather than a competitive assessment of it. Have fun with it as you are there because it doesn't really last long for athletes since it ends around the age of thirty when most of our peers are starting their journeys. An athlete’s career is for a really short time and one should have fun with it.
Badminton Association of India secretary Ajay Singhania meets sports minister to discuss shuttlers' Olympic preparations
New Delhi, Jun 14 Badminton Association of India (BAI) secretary general Ajay Singhania on Monday called on sports minister Kiren Rijiju to apprise him of the preparation of Indian shuttlers for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
"On BAI President @himantabiswa's advice, GS Ajay Singhania today met Hon'ble Sports Minister @KirenRijiju &updated him about the status & immediate needs of Tokyobound #badminton players. The Minister is upbeat about preparation &wished shuttlers to bring laurels for the nation," BAI tweeted.
World champion and Rio Olympics silver-medallist P V Sindhu, World Championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth and world no.10 men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy have qualified for the Tokyo Games.
The BAI had recently written to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to allow four coaches, including chief coach Pullela Gopichand, and two physios to travel with the four shuttlers to Tokyo.
The Sports ministry had decided against sending its delegation to Tokyo Olympics to accommodate "maximum" support staff, including coaches and physios, for the athletes competing in the Summer Games. News source PTI
Indian badminton star Malvika Bansod wins RSL Lithuanian International crown
Kaunas (Lithuania), Jun 14 India's Malvika Bansod defeated Rachael Darragh of Ireland in straight games to clinch the women's singles crown at the RSL Lithuanian International badminton tournament here.
The third seeded Indian got the better of fourth seed Darragh 21-14 21-11 in the summit clash on Sunday night that lasted just 29 minutes.
Malvika, who reached the quarterfinals of the Austrian Open last month, had earlier defeated France's Anna Tatranova 21-13 21-10 to enter the women's singles final.
En route to her title triumph here, the 19-year-old Malvika had defeated local player Vilte Paulauskaite 21-6 21-10 in the opening round, before crushing Heli Neiman of Israel 21-10, 21-11.
She then saw off Austrian Katrin Neudolt 21-12 21-9 in the quarterfinals. New source PTI
Winning gold at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will be special: Indian para badminton player Krishna Nagar
New Delhi, Jun 10 Top para shuttler Krishna Nagar is "proud" of his qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and is looking to make the opportunity count by claiming the gold medal at the August 24-September 5 event.
Nagar (SH 6 -- Short Stature) along with Pramod Bhagat (SL3 -- Standing Lower) and Tarun Dhillon (SL4 -- Standing Lower) have received official invitations from the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to participate at the Tokyo 2020 Para Games.
SL3 refers to minor standing or lower limb impairment and SL4 means severe lower limb impairment. While SH6 refers to short stature.
"It's a proud moment for me that I will be part of the Paralympic Games when para badminton is making its debut. And I will definitely try to make it memorable winning the gold. My sole focus is standing on top of the podium," Nagar told the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
They secured their respective places for the Tokyo Paralympics by virtue of their present impressive BWF world rankings.
Nagar added, "With the COVID-119 pandemic bringing anxiety and crisis to the world, I hope to bring smiles and happy moments for the countrymen through a medal in Tokyo 2020. This will be also a motivation for many upcoming para-athletes." The 21-year-old from Rajasthan clinched two gold medals at the Dubai 2021 Para Badminton International in April.
Nagar also shared why the Paralympic gold is so important to him.
"I had settled for the bronze at Asian Para Games 2018 and Basel 2019 World Championship, so I don't want to miss the gold this time. To win the gold at Tokyo 2020 will be very special," said Nagar, who is currently training in Lucknow.
But he is aware that the road will not be easy at the Games with strong players like Jack Shephard of England, Hong Kong's Chun Mai Kai waiting in his way to the podium.
Meanwhile, Bhagat said he is highly motivated to do well at the Games now that he has officially qualified for the event.
As of now, five Indian players have received official invitations from the BWF for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Chief national coach Gaurav Khanna was confident that India will have three more players in men's singles SL3, SL4 and mixed doubles event through Bipartite rule. The final list is due to be released on July 16.
The women's doubles pair of Parul Parmar (SL3) and Palak Kohli (SU5) were the first Indian duo to receive the confirmation on their qualification.
"I am expecting a medal each from all the players going to Tokyo. Tarun, Pramod, Krishna are strong contenders for gold medals. Meanwhile, it's a proud moment for someone so young like Palak qualifying for the Games.
"Training is going on full swing. We are fortunate that now we have a dedicated Badminton Academy for the Para Badminton players, so even if there's a lockdown our players have a place to train in.
"The spirit in the team is also very high and we are working hard towards our goal. There is also a system in place for each player which will surely help them deliver a medal winning performance in Tokyo." New source PTI
My focus is on winning gold at Paralympics: Indian para shuttler Pramod Bhagat after receiving invitation from BWF
New Delhi, Jun 8 Three Indian para shuttlers, including world number one Pramod Bhagat, on Tuesday officially qualified for the Paralympics, scheduled to be held from August 25 to September 5.
Besides Bhagat (SL3 -- standing/lower limb impairment/minor), Tarun Tarun (SL4 -- standing/ lower limb impairment/severe) and Krishna Nagar (SH6 -- standing/short stature) too received invitations to participate in the Paralympics.
SL3 refers to minor standing or lower limb impairment and SL4 means severe lower limb impairment. While SH6 refers tanding/short stature).
Bhagat, who had claimed two gold medals and a bronze at the recently-concluded Dubai Para Tournament, was on cloud nine after receiving the invitation from the game's governing body, Badminton World Federation.
"I am very excited to be invited, every athlete dreams of participating in the Olympics and it is the same for me," Bhagat said.
"I am very focused and winning a gold at the Paralympics is my dream and I have been training very hard to achieve this." Sukant Kadam, Manoj Sarkar and few other prominent players are expecting their invitations through Bipartite to come on July 16.
The Indian women's pair of Palak Kohli and Parul Parmar last month became the first from the country to receive the invitations for the Tokyo Paralympics.
This is the first time badminton is being introduced in the Paralympics. New source PTI
Badminton Association of India writes to Indian Olympic Association to allow 4 coaches including Pullela Gopichand for Olympic-bound shuttlers
New Delhi, Jun 8 The Badminton Association of India (BAI) has written to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for sanction of four travelling coaches, including chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, and two physios to travel with the Indian badminton contingent to the Tokyo Olympics.
Apart from Gopichand, who has been to the last three Olympics, the three foreign coaches -- Agus Dwi Santoso (Indonesia), Park Tae Sang (Korea) and Mathias Boe (Denmark) were named in the letter, besides the two physios Sumansh Sivalanka and Evangline Baddam (female).
"Badminton has best shot at medals in Tokyo and a letter was sent to IOA to this respect on Monday mentioning the six member support team that also includes chief coach Gopichand's name along with the squad of four players," a BAI source told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Rio silver medallist P V Sindhu, World Championship bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth and World No 10 men's doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy are the Indian shuttlers who have qualified for the Tokyo Games scheduled to begin on July 23.
According to the norms, the number of officials travelling to Olympics cannot be more than one-third of the athlete. However, the sports ministry can allow additional officials at no cost to the government.
In the run-up to the Olympics, Sindhu has been training under Park at the Gachibowli Indoor stadium, while Santoso has been working with Praneeth and Boe was appointed to guide Chirag and Satwik in their maiden Games.
Hence, the BAI sought the opinion of the Olympic-bound Indian shuttlers before writting to the IOA.
With Gopichand at the helm of affairs, India had returned with a bronze and a silver from the last two editions at London and Rio de Janeiro.
However, the chief coach had last week reportedly said that he might not go to Tokyo this time.
"It is going to be tough, because you get only 1/3rd of the support staff contingent going with the team ... I could be looking at not travelling to Tokyo as well because I do believe that the immediate coaches who have trained the players should go as the first priority," he had said during a TV interview. New source PTI
Tough journey awaits Saina, can target specific tournaments to prolong career: Former India badminton coach Vimal Kumar
New Delhi, Jun 4 (PTI) Former India badminton coach Vimal Kumar reckons a "tough" journey awaits Saina Nehwal, who will need to target specific tournaments to prolong her career after the COVID-19 pandemic shattered her Tokyo Olympics dreams.
Battling injuries and indifferent form, Saina, 31, couldn't make her fourth Olympics after the sport's governing body, BWF, cancelled the last three qualifiers due to the pandemic.
"She came into the limelight in 2005-06 and has been a big trend setter after Prakash Padukone. She has been consistent, played many years and it is sad that she couldn't qualify this year. I guess she has been a bit unlucky in the last two Games," Vimal told PTI.
Vimal, who had guided Saina to the world number one ranking, feels the London Olympics bronze medallist can serve Indian badminton for a few years, provided she plans things better and takes care of her body.
"She can continue for few years but it is going to be tough. She has to plan things better, target specific tournaments and work towards it.
"With her experience she can still beat the best players but she shouldn't look at ranking because it will be difficult to play the circuit and also stay injury free." The shuttler has claimed over 24 international titles, including 11 Superseries crowns in a stellar career, besides winning a silver and bronze at the World Championships and a bronze at 2012 London Games.
Saina, who had reached the quarterfinals at the Beijing Games, suffered a career-threatening knee injury just days ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, which saw her bow out in the second round.
A determined Saina, however, returned to grab her second Commonwealth Games gold in 2018 and remained on course for a Tokyo berth before slipping in the last two years.
Is it possible to chase another Olympics? "It is very difficult. She has been getting injured consistently. I dont know, it is a tough task and, to be honest, Olympics shouldn't be the priority anymore," Vimal said.
"Her performance has seen a steady decline since January 2019 when she won the Indonesia final after Carolina Marin got injured. After that she has not done anything remarkable. Of course, it was all COVID for most parts." Vimal feels it will all depend on her hunger to succeed in the sport which she has been playing for more than 15 years.
"No major changes can be made at this stage. She has to take care of her body. Sports is tough, it's difficult for body to take that sort of intensity," he said.
"She is still better than rest of the young players but now the focus will be on youngsters. She will have to manage, look to play the circuit on own expense, if she still has that willingness and hunger.
"She has (Parupalli) Kashyap as her coach now. If she can do all that, she can continue to play for a couple of years at least, and that will be good for other Indian players as well." PTI ATK AH AH
I am working to acquire new technique, skills for Olympics: Indian badminton star PV Sindhu
New Delhi, Jun 3 India's top badminton star P V Sindhu says she is working to acquire new skills and techniques to surprise her rivals, who are at the same level with distinct playing styles, at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Rio Olympics silver medallist and world champion feels the coronavirus pandemic-induced break has given her the much-needed time to rectify mistakes in her game and add something new to her repertoire.
Her nemesis and reigning champion, Carolina Marin, will not be there due to a knee injury, but Sindhu knows the field still remains tough.
"In women's circuit the players in top-10 are of same standard. You can't take it easy, if one player is not there," Sindhu, the world number seven, said in a virtual interaction, organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
"There is Tai Tzu Ying, Ratchanok Intanon, (Nozomi) Okuhara and (Akane) Yamaguchi. They are all good players. You can't say, it will be easy if one player is missing. I can't relax and need to be focussed and give my best," the 25-year-old said.
Sindhu had lost the 2016 Olympics final and 2017 World Championship summit clash to Marin.
"There are a couple of tricky players like Ratchanok, she is very skilful. We have to look after them. "For me, it's a very good time to improve my technique and skill. I have improved. It's good that I have got so much time. Usually we don't get time to rectify mistakes or learn new skills.
"It takes time. So this was the time and I am using it. I hope, in the Olympics, there will be some new techniques and skills." Sindhu said she and others have to watch out for the Chinese players as well since they have been missing from the circuit for some time.
"They have not played for a long time. We have not seen them. Chen Yu (Fei) and He Bing Jiao, the left hander, her skills are good. In Olympics, it's completely different, the game, the pressure. You can't expect easy (rivals)." Asked about her own strong points that may give her advantage over others, Sindhu said her game is always about relentless attacks.
"Attack is my strong point. The rivals know my game so I am working on my defence as well. I am tall, so my attack is good. I have to be prepared for all strokes, for everything," she said.
The Hyderabadi said training at the Gachibowli Stadium is ideal preparation for the Games since the facility is huge and gives her the feel of stadiums where big-ticket events like the Olympics are held.
"We might not know each other's game now because we have not played for the last two months. I have been playing at Gachbowli after the Thailand Open and it has been really helpful because it is international standard.
"When you play in a big stadium, you have to make sure you control the shuttle and drift which is very very important. When you go abroad, shuttles drift, there's is AC and shuttle might (travel) fast. So when you have the facilities why not use them," she said.
Talking about Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth missing out on the Olympics due to cancellation of the qualifying events, Sindhu sympathised with her compatriots.
"It would have been good if they were there. No one knew that there will be such a situation. Everyone tried hard but the tournaments were unfortunately cancelled because of the safety of the athletes. Life comes first.
"At Olympics also, we will be tested everyday." Sindhu said she does not feel any pressure of being the lone woman shuttler from the country but is aware of the expectations.
She also said that she is much more experienced and can handle the big stage better since the Rio Olympics.
"Last time around I did not even know how the Olympic village would be but now I know how it is there." Sindhu said while she has empathy for Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who pulled out of French Open after being fined for missing a mandatory press conference, she also spoke about the pressure media interactions put on her. However, she herself has not felt the same.
Sindhu also praised her Korean coach Park Tae Sang for understanding what's going on in her head and for his consistent support. New source PTI
I will miss you at Olympics: Indian badminton star PV Sindhu to Carolina Marin
New Delhi, Jun 2 Star Indian shuttler PV Sindhu on Wednesday wished Spain's Carolina Marin a speedy recovery after she was forced out of the Tokyo Games due to a freak knee injury and said she will miss the reigning Olympic champion at the quadrennial event.
Marin, a prime contender for the gold medal at the Tokyo Games, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during training and pulled out of the showpiece event on Tuesday.
"So sorry to hear about your injury. Hoping that you will recover soon and come back stronger," Sindhu, who had settled for the silver medal at Rio Games after losing to Marín in the final, said in a video message posted on twitter.
Recalling the epic final match, Sindhu said: "I remember the last Olympic Games when we played in the final. It was really good competing against you so I'm going to miss that again, and I've been missing you, seeing you on court.
"I will miss you at the Olympic Games but hope we compete against each other soon, so come back fast and recover soon. Lots of love." The 27-year-old from Spain felt discomfort in her knee during training on Saturday and tests later revealed that it's an ACL injury.
Marin had earlier suffered an ACL on her right knee in January 2019, which kept her out of the courts until September of that year.
Marin, a three-time World Champion, was a title favourite as she had been in red-hot form this year, winning four of the five finals that she played. New source PTI
Shuttler Carolina Marin pulls out of Tokyo Olympics due to knee injury
New Delhi, Jun 1 Defending champion Carolina Marin on Tuesday pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics after suffering an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear in her left knee that will require a surgery to heal.
The 27-year-old from Spain felt discomfort in her knee during training on Saturday and tests revealed that it's an ACL injury.
"After the examination during the weekend and the medical consultation, I confirm that I have torn the ACL and both meniscus on my left knee. I will undergo surgery this week and start my recovery," Marin tweeted.
"This is another blow that I have to deal, but I will certainly be back. The preparation during the last two months had become very difficult for reasons beyond the team's control, but we were excited and knew that I would be in the best shape for the Olympics. It won't be possible." The Olympic Games are schedule to begin on July 23.
Marin, a three-time World Champion, was a title favourite as she had been in red-hot form this year, winning four of the five finals that she played.
"I want to thank everyone for your support and messages during these days. I know that I am in safe hands and that I have a lot of people by my side." Marin had earlier suffered an ACL injury on her right knee in January 2019, which kept her out of the courts until September of that year.
Marin had defeated India's P V Sindhu in the finals to claim the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. New source PTI
Indian shuttler Malvika Bansod's Austrian Open campaign ends with quarterfinal loss
Graz (Austria), May 30 Talented Indian shuttler Malvika Bansod gave a good account of herself at the Austrian Open International Series despite a narrow defeat against top seed Clara Azurmendi of Spain in the quarterfinals here.
The 19-year-old from Nagpur bounced back from a game down to grab the second game before going down narrowly 17-21 21-15 19-21 against world no 71 Clara on Saturday night.
Malvika had earlier defeated seventh seed Léonice Huet of France 21-9 21-6 in the pre-quarterfinals after notching up a 21-13 21-15 win over Czech Republic's Tereza Švábíková in the opening round on Friday.
Malvika had won the Maldives International Future Series on her senior debut in 2019, before claiming the Annapurna Post International Series in Nepal. She also won a bronze at the Bahrain International Series n 2019.
Among other Indians, Mugdha Agrey and Anjana Kumari faltered in the opening round of women's singles. New source PTI
Tokyo hopes end for Indian shuttlers Srikanth, Saina after BWF says no further events in qualifying window
New Delhi, May 28 Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal's slim hopes of qualifying for Tokyo Games ended after the game's governing body (BWF) on Friday made it clear there will not be any change in the current ranking list and no further tournament will be held inside the qualification period.
Former world no 1 Srikanth and London Games bronze-medallist Saina's hopes were all but dashed when the last of the Olympic qualifiers in Singapore was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The duo had hung on a slim hope when the governing body said it "will issue a further statement on Tokyo Olympics qualifying at a later date".
"The Badminton World Federation (BWF) can confirm no further tournaments will be played inside the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifying window," the apex body said in a statement on Friday.
"As such, while the qualification period officially closes 15 June 2021 as per the Revised Tokyo 2020 Qualification System, the current Race To Tokyo rankings list will not change." Owing to the health crisis, the world body had earlier revised the qualification period, extending it by nearly two months to June 15 after postponement of three important events.
However, with no respite from the pandemic, BWF was forced to cancel or postpone the last three qualifiers -- India Open, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open, leaving players, including Srikanth and Saina, with no chance to earn a qualification.
"The Olympic qualification process is in effect closed as there are no additional opportunities for players to earn points," BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said.
"However, we still need to receive confirmations from National Olympic Committees and Member Associations, followed by any possible reallocations, and this will take a number of weeks to complete." According to the qualification rules, the top 16 players - a maximum of two players each in men's and women's singles from a country - as on June 15 will gain direct entries.
The BWF said "invitations will be sent shortly with final participation lists and seedings to be published at the conclusion of this process." Indian shuttlers who have already made the cut for the Olympics include PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and the men's doubles pairing of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy. New source PTI
Second-best foreign coaches will make us second best and not the best, says India’s badminton coach Pullela Gopichand
New Delhi, May 27 Pullela Gopichand says a good mix of foreign and Indian coaches is important for the development of the system but strongly believes that "second best" overseas recruits will only produce the second best players.
Speaking at the virtual inauguration of the High-Performance Coach Education Programme, the national badminton coach highlighted the role of a coaches in Indian sports.
"Foreign coaches are very important for our development. It's very important that we always have a healthy mix of foreign coaches.
"In sports, where we do not have expertise it is good sometimes to have full foreign support teams in the beginning, but if for successive teams, we are having only foreign coaches then we are not doing justice to our system.
"It's very important that we learn from them. And we've to gradually wean away from them because they will always be making us the second best, and not the best," Gopichand added.
The Dronacharya Awardee feels there is a need for programs that turn former players into coaches.
"We'll never be able to get the best foreign coaches, we will always get only the second best, and probably the heart of an Indian coach who's really wanting India to win will be definitely more than the coach who wants the next contract.
"So, sports where we have consistently done well, and that we have produced players, it's important to make programs which change players into coaches." India is an athlete centric system and this needs to change according to Gopichand, who called for more power being given to coaches.
"From the perspective of a coach, who is not recognised, who has to work under associations, under administrators and also sometimes under an athlete's pressure, because once the athlete becomes bigger than the coach, then everybody starts listening to the athlete.
"It's time we need to kind of reverse that model and make it a coach-led model. For this we need more power being given to the coaches. Accountable, responsible power so that they perform and produce more and more results." He also highlighted the tendency of coaches to hold onto players that have got them praise and recognition, a practice Gopichand believes must change.
"Athletes start off somewhere, as a grassroots level player with a certain coach. After that they have to move on to the next level to an intermediate level and to an elite level. At each level, the coaches are recognised many times for the players they produce.
"So, they hold on to players more than they are capable of handling. They should be encouraged to pass on players to the next level, that transfer is something which is really important.
"One good player might last for eight to 10 years. But imagine if we produce one good coach. He will last us for 30 to 40 years and the number of players he produces enormous," he reasoned.
Sport Minsiter Kiren Rijiju said Indian athletes have a mindset that they require foreign coaches to win medals.
"Whenever I meet athletes they tell me 'we need a foreign coach to win an Olympic medal.' That doesn't mean that they don't believe in Indian coaches but somehow they have the understanding that the edge of being in the medal bracket can come from a foreign coach," Rijiju said.
The minister called for a change from the "makeshift" coaching system being followed in the country.
"In India, we have no such professional approach in terms of coaching. So far things have been done is a makeshift arrangement looking for immediate upcoming sporting events.
"We're hiring coaches for a period of time, or for a particular tournament. We don't have that critical mass, or that kind of ecosystem in our country, where we can truly say that even the people from other countries can come to India for coaching and training." New source PTI
Indian women's pair of Palak-Parul qualify for Paralympics
New Delhi, May 21 Women's pair of Palak Kohli and Parul Parmar on Friday became the first Indian para shuttlers to qualify for Tokyo Paralympics.
The 18-year-old Palak and veteran Parul, who couldn't compete at the Spanish para-Badminton International (May 11-16), due to travel restriction in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, received an official initimation from the world body BWF on Friday.
Palak and her partner Parul has achieved the qualification for the SL3-SU5 Women's Doubles event in para-badminton, which will be making its debut in this year's Paralympics.
"We got the official communication today and I am ecstatic to hear the news," said Palak, who is the youngest para-badminton player in the world to qualify for Tokyo Paralympics.
The duo is currently ranked sixth in the world.
"In the last few months, we have been pushing ourselves and training hard. Even in the pandemic, we continued to train under the guidance of Gaurav Khanna sir and never deterred from our focus." The top six pairs in the BWF ranking have qualified. The ranking was released after the completion of the Spanish Open.
"I am really grateful that we have been able to clear the first obstacle of getting a Paralympics medal. We have to now set our targets at the podium and devote all our energy in the upcoming days to achieve the goals." The duo was ranked fifth before the Spanish event and even though they had made the qualification criteria, they were waiting for the official communication, which was due after the Spanish event.
Palak and Parul are currently training at the Gaurav Khanna Excellia Badminton Academy, the first Indian professional para-badminton academy, in Lucknow.
"I am absolutely thrilled that Palak and Parul are the first ones from the Indian Para-badminton contingent to receive their tickets to Tokyo Paralympics," Khanna said.
"The pandemic has been difficult on all of us, but this news has brought some positivity. We now have to prepare keeping in mind the level of difficulties the Paralympics will have for us and the work gets somewhat easier for us by having a dedicated training facility.
"We are extremely grateful to the Sports Authority of India, BAI, Welspun India who has been constantly supporting us." Palak will represent India in the Paralympics in two events.
After making it to the SL3-SU5 Women's doubles event, Palak now awaits a call in the SU5 Singles category, where she's currently ranked number 11 in the world. News source: PTI