Two days after Indian badminton’s poster girls — P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal — returned home with a silver and bronze respectively from the 2017 World Championships, an elated National coach Pullela Gopichand on Tuesday said the day is not too far when the likes of Kidambi Srikanth will make a podium finish.
Addressing a press conference here along with silver medallist Sindhu, on their return from Glasgow, Gopichand said the two medals have broken the barrier and things will improve from here on.
“We have broken the barrier and won two medals at this year’s World Championships. Things will improve from here on,” Gopichand said.
“We have been very fortunate that we have had players like Saina and Sindhu in the women’s side, who have actually gone up and pushed the bars of fitness higher and the men whether it’s (Parupalli) Kashyap, (HS) Prannoy, (Kidambi) Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, all of them have actually started to see the importance of fitness in their performances.
“At the end of it Sindhu’s performance will eclipse that of others but I think Saina winning a bronze and then Srikanth close to winning a medal. This was his second quarter-finals at the World Championships, also reached the quarters of Olympics, so he is not far from a medal,” he added.
Heaping praises on his prodigy, Gopichand expected a lot many gold medals in 22-year-old Sindhu’s cabinet by the time she retires from the game.
“The World Championship final was a great match and Sindhu did a great job. At 22, she has big medals under her belt — three World Championships (bronze in 2013 and 2014, silver in 2017) and a Olympics medal (silver at Rio).”
“Four consecutive years of medals and hopefully she will have a lot many gold in her cabinet at the end of her career,” he said.
Gopichand conceded that the final between Sindhu and Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara — the second longest match in the history of women’s singles — tested the fitness levels of both the shuttlers, which he felt makes badminton even more exciting.
“It was another level of fitness which we saw at the World Championships final — a high pressure match. One hour 50 minutes of really intense battle where each player never got a clear lead, so nothing much to experiment. You are always under pressure, that is what it makes it so exciting,” he said.
Sindhu on her part, admitted that it was a tough outing against the Japanese shuttler, against whom she shared a 3-3 record before the World Championship final.
“It was disappointing to lose the final. I think Okuhara also played really well. At that time, specially after being 20-all in the decider, it was anybody’s game. I fought hard but then it was just not my day,” she said.
The Hyderabadi also stressed on the importance of having sound sleep and good food before such important matches.
“It’s very important to have good food, good sleep and take good rest before an important match. If it was a semi-final, it would have been more important. This time I secured silver I am very happy,” she added.