Gopichand still my coach, says Saina after row

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 02, 2014 20:01 IST

Saina Nehwal’s decision to shift to Bangalore to train under former India coach Vimal Kumar is temporary and purely aimed at infusing freshness in her game ahead of the Asian Games, her father said on Tuesday.

The London Olympic bronze medalist’s decision to move out of national coach Pullela Gopichand’s academy in Hyderabad has caused a flutter, coming just three days after her quarter-final exit in the Copenhagen world championships. The younger PV Sindhu, also a Gopichand trainee, won a bronze medal for the second worlds in a row.

However, Saina’s father clarified it was just a fortnight-long training session. “It’s just temporary,” Harvir Singh said when HT contacted him in Hyderabad. “She left for Bangalore in the morning to train under Vimal Kumar for the Incheon Games. We’ll see how it goes before we come to any concrete decision. Besides, Saina will be coming back to Hyderabad after the Games.”

Saina, too, insisted that Gopichand remains her coach. “I wanted to train under Vimal sir ahead of the Asian Games because his advice helped me during the Uber Cup. I feel he can help me prepare for Incheon,” said the Olympic bronze medalist after reaching Bangalore to train at the Prakash Padukone Academy. “The three of us had long discussions (Gopichand, Vimal and herself) after which I took the decision."

The Asian Games start on September 19. In the last edition in Guangzhou, China, Saina, seeded No 2 and fresh from her Delhi Commonwealth Games triumph, lost in the quarterfinals to Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong.

Saina was unbeaten in the Uber Cup held in the capital in May. Vimal Kumar was with the India contingent and was often seen offering tips to the world No 7. After struggling with form and injuries for a while, Saina won her first tournament in over 20 months at the Australian Open Super Series in June. But she didn’t defend her CWG title in Glasgow in July due to blisters on her feet. On recovering, she had hoped to win her maiden world championship medal last week, but lost to Chinese world No 1 Li Xuerui in the quarterfinals.

The flutter over Saina’s decision to train under Vimal is because in 2011 the then world No 2 had split with Gopichand due to ‘certain misunderstandings’ to train under Bhaskar Babu. The duo soon patched up and she was back to train under Gopichand, going on to win the bronze in London.

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