Talk of how badminton national coach Pullela Gopi Chand was being biased in the selection of the junior national team may have led to the creation of a new junior selection panel and appointment of a new coach, but the former all-England champion maintains he is unbiased.
In Lucknow to see the Indian shuttlers take on the best in the continent at the Asian Youth under-19 championship, Gopi Chand refused to accept that he was ever biased in training or selection of the players during the last four years of his tenure.
He runs the Gopi Chand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad, which gives training to many young shuttlers, many of whom have performed well at the international level. "Before me Vimal Kumar was the national coach and my academy was formed before I became the chief coach,” Gopi Chand justified. “Those who were there before me always had their own academies.
“There is nothing to question my integrity in terms of selection and coaching and there is not even one case to pinpoint,” he emphasised, giving a befitting reply to the demands that he should choose between his academy and the team.
Crucial 12 months
Gopi Chand, who is also Saina Nehwal's coach, said she is India's best bet for the 2012 Olympics, but added it all depends on how she shapes up in the next one year. "Saina's not winning big international events recently does worry me and I think we need to correct a few things to bring everything under control," he said.
Sindhu, Srikant win
Gopi Chand's presence at the venue seemed to have worked magic on young Indian shuttlers. K Srikant notched up straight games win against Syrian Mahmoud Aram 21-16, 21-11 to advance to the pre-quarters of the men's singles.
The two young boys from Dhar - Sameer Verma and Pratul Joshi - also scored straight games wins to advance. In women's singles, PV Sindhu and Gauri Ghate surged ahead after top seed Aicala Malvinee of Philippines was sent packing by China's Sun Yu 25-27, 7-21.