Tag Archives: Rio Olympics

I won’t Settle For Anything Less Than Gold At Rio Olympics: P.V. Sindhu

P.V. Sindhu. (Image Courtesy: zeenews.india.com).

P.V. Sindhu.
(Image Courtesy: zeenews.india.com).

Sindhu has already insight with the medal hunger at the upcoming RIO Olympics. This year, Sindhu has won a maiden Super Series final at Denmark, quarterfinalist at ABC, quarterfinalist at Indonesia Grand Prix, quarterfinalist at World Championship, defended her 2015 Macau title, and the latest being conferred with the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour at the age of just 20!

“I have made it to the top 10 in the past. So yes, I see myself grabbing the No. 1 ranking sometime soon. I am also sure that if not for my injury that forced me to stay out of court for a few months, my year-end ranking would have been better than number 12,” she asserts.

But Sindhu considers injuries “a part and parcel of an athlete’s life. I have picked myself up after the injury and got back to the court with a vengeance. In a way, that’s what injury does to a sportsperson; it makes you hungry for more, hungry to get back with a bang.”

P.V. Sindhu @ The macau Open 2015.

P.V. Sindhu @ The macau Open 2015.

And that’s what she did, ending the year with a title that is also a hat-trick. “What it is about Macau I don’t know,” the badminton ace says of her third consecutive Macau Open title. “People keep asking me this – ‘Is there some luck, some superpower at play at Macau?’ – and I am like ‘I really don’t know’,” she laughs. “I am super proud and happy of the fact that I have won it this year too, making it a hat-trick.”

She is also one of the highest paid players in the badminton league that will begin from January. “Well, I got the second highest bid, after Saina Nehwal,” Sindhu says with a wink and laugh, “But I am not yet in the crore club, I am still paid in lakhs.”

Asked about her height, “I am not sure if I can call it a weakness exactly. I have begun noticing of late that my opponents are handing me low shots. They play by the logic that I will have to work a lot harder to reach lower. So, right now, I am working on this particular challenge with my coach (Pullela Gopichand). I want to do everything right to prep for the Olympics.”

When asked about the preparations for her first ever Olympics, Sindhu quoted “More than being excited, I am just worried about how to give my best at Rio. It’s the qualifying year, and all tournaments are important. And, I don’t want to settle for anything less than gold,” Sindhu comments.

And to reach that dream, she is working hard on all fronts. “What happens with me is that I am all out there hitting hard, gaining points and beating even a player ranked higher than me. And then, sometimes, I have gone down even after taking leads against a player who is ranked lower. Here is where I think the problem is. Once I start missing points in a row, I tend to make more errors because in my head I begin to think, ‘Oh God! What’s happening? Why am I losing?’ But trust me, I am working on this. I think a sportsperson gains mental strength with experience.”

We’ve seen her strut her stuff on the ramp a few times in the recent past. Has she ever considered modelling? “No, no! I can’t imagine modelling as a career. Ramp walks are limited to those I have done in the past with other players as well. If I was offered a career in modelling, I would turn it down. I love playing badminton and will stick to it,” she says.

Hope We Field Our Biggest Ever Squad At Rio Olympics: Gopichand

Pullela Gopichand.(Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

Pullela Gopichand.
(Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

NEW DELHI: India’s Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand is confident of fielding India’s biggest-ever badminton contingent at the Games.

“Looks like we will have our biggest ever contingent at the Olympics this time and if things go well we will have an entry in every event. Of course, there are important events including India Open Grand Prix Super Series and All England Championships in the lead up and we will know exactly where we stand. All our players have been guilty of not being consistent this year. I hope we are able to address that problem,” Gopichand said here on Wednesday.

The qualification process ends on May 5 and all players ranked among top 16 will get direct quota in the singles. K Srikanth (world No. 9) and P Kashyap (world No. 15) in the men’s singles and Saina Nehwal (world No. 2) and P.V. Sindhu (world No. 12) are eligible for direct qualification as of now. The Indian contingent will have tournaments like the Thomas and Uber Cup and Asian Team Championship in February to improve their rankings.

Gopichand also quoted, “Objectively everyone wants to get clear answers (on Rio Games)… unfortunately I won’t be able to say. But we can look for a better performance. There is still some time left between April end and now. I hope to have the strongest team at Rio.”

“Kashyap has recovered and has started training. He should be ready for PBL. For Srikanth, the end of the year seemed a lot better in the sense that at least the Indonesian Open gave us glimpses of where he could be. He’s a young player and had big victories early on. It’s time for him to adapt, get new strokes,” Gopichand said.

With the rankings in hand, India for the first time will have two men’s singles players, Srikanth and Kashyap for the men singles event.

Engaging Sports Psychologist Will Help Saina In Rio: Prakash Padukone

Saina. (Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

Saina Nehwal.
(Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com).

MUMBAI: Badminton legend Prakash Padukone lended a helping hand for two of the top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu to improve on the mental aspect by engaging the services of a sports psychologist at the earliest which he feels will play a vital role in clinching the gold at 2016 Rio Olympics.

“I think Olympics is a test of mental character. Whoever is mentally strong will probably win the gold, not just in women’s singles but in any sport. Olympics is a different ball game. You can win all the other tournaments, but if you are mentally not strong you can never win the Olympics,” said Prakash in an interview to PTI here.

“It’s important that you prepare well mentally. I would advise Sindhu and Saina to focus a little more on the mental aspect and, if required, take the help of some sports psychologist, if they feel comfortable. But they should start right now because one month or so (before the Games) won’t help. It would need six to eight months.

“If I was in their place I would probably take the help of a sports psychologist as all other aspects like specialist trainer, physio and coach are being taken care of. Some people believe, some don’t that it might help. I believe so. Ultimately Olympics is a test of character.

“It does not matter how well you perform the week before or the week after, (but) you have to make sure you reach the peak during the week when the badminton event is happening. It’s extremely difficult to predict who will win. The difference is so little at that level. Whoever is strong mentally will win the title”.

“We have a good chance, specially in the ladies singles. The top two – Saina and Sindhu – have beaten all the top players at one time or the other. It may not be necessarily in the same tournament; that should happen now,” said the Bengaluru-based Prakash.

“Of course, it won’t be easy as everyone will be trying to peak during that period. It will be a draw of 32 and a lot would depend on the draw too,” added Prakash.

While not ruling out the chances of men, including senior shuttler Parupalli Kashyap who reached the quarterfinals in London, the former great said that the first priority for them was to qualify for the Rio Games, unlike Saina and Sindhu.

“They have the potential, but whether it happens will depend on them remaining injury-free, trying to reach the peak during that period and having a lot of self-belief. In men’s singles, compared to women’s, it’s a little tougher as they have not beaten all the players.

“It does not mean they don’t have a chance, but it will be tough. This is (also) the best chance we have. Initially for men, at least, the key for them would be to make sure they qualify before the April 30 cut-off. May be one or two may qualify. For women that issue is not there. For men, it’s still open.

“It could be a toss up between K Srikanth, P Kashyap, who is injured now, (H S) Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram, two (among these) have a good chance to qualify (for Rio Games),” added Prakash.

Asked about the women’s doubles combination of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who have in the past won a bronze medal in the World Championship, Prakash said, “I would say (they have an) outside chance, unless there is drastic improvement. They need to put in a lot more effort in these last eight months. They have a lot more support now. OGQ’s (Olympic Gold Quest, of which he is a co-founder with billiards ace Geet Sethi) support, TOP (Target Olympic Podium) scheme support, a specialist doubles coach etc,.

“It’s now entirely up to the players. Specially Jwala needs to concentrate a bit more on physical training. On her day she can make a big difference. If she is physically fit it will make a big difference with her height,” said Prakash.

“They have beaten good players but in the past and not recently. It may be tough, but they have an outside chance. These are the three medals (we can look for). If we can get in others (men’s and mixed doubles), then it will be a bonus, but it’s not being realistic,” he explained further.

“If I was in charge I will send them a week to 10 days before their respective events. At least a week before, for sure. Just to be there in the time zone, recover from the long flight. Just go to the hall, or shooting range, or hockey field or whatever else, five-six times.

“Weather (in August in the southern hemisphere) is not an issue as they have played in winter in other places but time difference and long flight would take one day to recover.

“I hope they just don’t go only 2-3 days before. This event comes once in four years and I don’t want the government to be miserly after spending so much. Compared to what they already have spent over the last four years (in preparations), may be 5 to 600 crore, may be 4 or 5 crore extra will have to be spent as only a handful will qualify.

“They should send them one week before their event. It’s about giving them, not only badminton but all others, a realistic chance to perform to potential. That should be the aim.

“Whether it happens or not is a different issue but the aim should be to rule out uncertainty, provide the best playing facility and prepare properly. And then hope for the best. The chances of getting a medal gets better.

“If they want OGQ will support for the extra 3-4 days’ (stay), but I hope it does not come to that and someone in the (Sports) Ministry will take a call. I would prefer that everyone reaches one week before their event.”

Asked about the year 2015, Prakash commented, “It’s been a satisfying year. I don’t think one can complain. Still it could have been a little bit better, (though) that’s being a little greedy. Overall they played well.

“Some of the players, especially men, could have been probably a little bit more consistent. They had good victories followed by bad losses which could have been reduced. In that sense things could have been better.

“But on the whole, it was a satisfying year, especially in both men’s and women’s singles. Women – 2 in top ten – Sindhu would be around that. Men – 6 in top 50 – which is a good achievement, but they should not be satisfied and look to better it in the new year.”

when Saina became the first from the country to become the world no 1, Prakash said with better planning she could have won the All England and World Championship titles, instead of finishing second-best to Spain’s Carolina Marin.

“I think she has done better than before, reached the All England final for the first time and got silver in the World Championship for the first time. But I still feel she is capable of doing better.

“She’s capable of winning the big tournaments if she can plan her tournaments and focus a little more on the bigger events and prepare for them properly, by not worrying too much about her ranking. That will be the icing on the cake.

Doubles specialist Kim EyesPotential Doubles Players From India

(Image Courtesy: in.news.yahoo.com).

Tan Kim Her.
(Image Courtesy: in.news.yahoo.com).

NAGPUR: Tan Kim Her, the specialist doubles coach from Malaysia after guiding players of several countries has signed a five-year contract with the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and is now working with several bunch of players for the last three months at the Hyderabad-based Pullela Gopichand Academy.

“I accepted to sign the BAI contract after a long and deep thought. It is quite challenging and I am game for it. In India, there is more focus on the singles. Unlike Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia and China, doubles do not get equal importance in India. I have a big task to change that. I need time for this but I am sure by the time my contract expires after five years, India will be a force to reckon with in doubles too just like singles,” said Kim.

“I found lot of young talent in India particularly in the boys section. The present lot of seniors, I can train and improve them but I can’t make them champions now. The younger unit is quite promising. I’m putting my money on them. In one or two years, these youngsters will definitely challenge the seniors. MR Arjun, Satwikraj Krishna, Chirag Shetty and Kuhoo Garg are some of the youngsters I’m very impressed with,” said Kim

“If not this Rio Olympics, next Olympics in Tokyo 2020, I’m sure our players will be in medal contention in all the three doubles events. Youngsters are willing to work hard and ready to go the distance. There are not many top mixed doubles pairs in India in the world rankings. Arun Vishnu and Aparna Balan are good and I will try to improve them,” he said.

Chief national coach Gopichand is pleased to have Kim on board. “I am pretty confident that Kim will bring in a revolution. He is an experienced campaigner, having travelled all over the world. He is the right man to do the job for us. I have given him a free hand as far as coaching of doubles players is concerned. Soon he will operate independently at my new academy, which is a couple of kilometres from the present academy. All the Indian doubles players will train at the new academy under Kim,” said Gopichand.

Kim’s future plans would be to focus on Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy and Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa for Rio Olympics, changing on partners on Trial and Erroe basis for better results, has requested BAI to send maximum pairs for various tournaments at the International level as International exposure is a must for talented junior players. And the last, not the least to target medals in Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Sindhu Capable Of Winning A Medal In Rio Olympics: Khanna

Dinesh kanna. (Image Courtesy: lite.epaper.timesofindia.com)

Dinesh kanna.
(Image Courtesy: lite.epaper.timesofindia.com)

NEW DELHI: Former Asian badminton champion and Arjuna awardee, Dinesh Khanna feels Indian shuttlers, including two-time World Championship bronze medallist P.V. Sindhu, can win medals at next year’s Rio Olympics.

“Saina and P.V. Sindhu will do well in the Olympics. Sindhu doing really well, but she often comes under pressure,” said Khanna.

“Sindhu defeats most of the players above her ranking, but often she fails with players below her ranking. I think she comes under mental pressure.
“Nerves also play a role in big matches like Olympics. Winning in Olympics depends upon the form of the day,” said Khanna.

Talking about medal prospect in men’s singles in Rio Olympics, Khanna said he is hopeful that K Srikanth and Ajay Jayaram will do well.