Apparently, all is not well between Saina Nehwal and Pullela Gopi Chand. The world No. 4 has moved away from her mentor and chief national coach, and has been training under senior coach, Bhaskar Babu, since March. And she plans to go with this arrangement till the 2012 London Olympics.
Hindustan Times has learnt that the move is a result of differences between the two over issues like tournament scheduling and training.
When contacted, Gopi confirmed that Babu had been looking after Saina’s training and tournament schedule for the past two months while he was concentrating on the new crop of shuttlers.
“My first aim was to take India to glory at the Commonwealth Games. As national coach, I need to concentrate on the youngsters. Saina needs a full-time coach, so Babu will handle the responsibility,” said Gopi, who has played an important role in shaping Saina’s career.
He, however, sidestepped the question as to why the development should stop him from being present during Saina’s matches.
When Saina suffered a reverse against Japan’s Ai Goto in the India Super series last month, Gopi was missing from the sidelines.
Saina sought to play down the issue saying the 2001 All England champion was still the boss at the Gopi Chand Academy and Babu was working in consultation with her mentor.
“Babu sir has travelled with me often for the last five years and I have been training under him at the national camps.
“I am comfortable with his coaching style and that is why I have decided to train and travel with him,” she said. Babu had accompanied Saina for the Malaysia Grand Prix Gold where she reached the final. Now, he will travel with the Commonwealth Games gold-medallist even if he is not part of the contingent for official tours.
The Badminton Association of India has a rotation policy for national panel coaches, which means Babu will travel even if he is not a part of the squad.
“I am happy that Saina has shown faith in me. I will do my best to help her win an Olympic medal,” said Babu.