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MUMBAI: The 2nd edition of Premier Badminton League (PBL) is about to kick-off this Saturday after a two-year gap.
This PBL will not see the world no.1 Carolina Marin and Lin Dan, a two time olympic champion not participating in the tournament is a virtue by the fact that the Rio olympics is just seven months in the tort with many other major tournaments underway for the Olympic qualification.
The PBL is followed by Malaysia Masters (Jan. 19-24), Syed Modi International (Jan 26-31), Thailand Masters (Feb. 8-13), German Open (Mar. 1-6) and Swiss Open (Mar. 15-20) and these tournaments offer crucial ranking points. The All England Championships (March 8-13) would also be high on their priority. Hence, squeezing the PBL in such a packed calendar would have been quite a challenge for the organizers, with many players choosing to enjoy the winter break with their families.
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National coach Pullela Gopichand quoted on this occasion saying,
“Lin Dan is not coming. May be he will come in the next edition. Carolina was there last year, but did not even play all matches. Yes, her stature is higher now. She will be missed, but the level is still very high which makes it exciting. Yes, I would love to have more players, but it does not make it any less,” Gopichand told reporters at the launch of the Mumbai Rockets team here on Wednesday.
“Even though it’s an Olympic year (2016), players have shown a great amount of commitment to play. Many of them have rescheduled their existing matches and that’s very encouraging. It’s the year-end and some of them have really gone out of their way. The way I look at it today, with whatever challenges we have had to face, the players we have is fantastic. We have players like Lee Chong Wei (former World No. 1), Mathias Boe, Vladimir Ivanov, Joachim Fischer.
“Each day you will see a Saina playing, Sindhu playing or a world champion playing or an Olympic medallist playing. To have it in different cities, for example to see a Saina play or Lee play, is fantastic. It will encourage kids to watch,” the 42-year-old added.
Mumbai Rocket’s star shuttler H.S. Prannoy also supported Gopichand’s views and commented,
“It is a great learning experience for the youngsters to play alongside big names in the badminton world. PBL has given us the stage for this and we have to make the best use of it,” said the World No. 20 Prannoy.
Gopichand also quoted that a bigger contingent for the Olympics will help India better their tally from London Games.
“There is lot of time before the Olympics. The qualifications for the event haven’t started yet. There are a lot of tournaments before the Olympics for the shuttlers to prepare themselves. To better the performance than what we had done in 2012 would be great. I think to have a bigger contingent there will give us a chance to clinch as many medals as possible. I believe all of our players who qualify will stand a chance to win medals,” accoladed Gopi.