Aiming for a smash hit in Rio
I see great potential in Ashwini Ponnappa and four years is a good time for her to try out some new combinations. P Gopichand writes.india Updated: Aug 27, 2012 01:56 IST
In Beijing, India had won three medals and the same three disciplines brought medals in London too. The only addition was badminton. Till sometime back, no one expected a medal, but the bronze around Saina Nehwal's neck has changed it all. There will now be immense pressure on us to bring a medal, preferably of a different colour, at Rio.
It is important that the focus on quality training remains intact. The rules of qualification ensure that players don't qualify through just one selection tournament — as is the case in many other disciplines — but on the basis of rankings over a period of one year. So, the players have to keep playing international tournaments round the year.
In four years, Saina will be 26 and I expect her to be in good shape even then. A couple of young players like PV Sindhu would also be in contention.I see great potential in Ashwini Ponnappa and four years is a good time for her to try out some new combinations. If our best doubles player Jwala Gutta maintains her rhythm, it will be good for us.
The rules of qualification for Olympics are tough in doubles events, but as far as men's and women's singles are concerned, we can look at having more than one player in Rio.
Today, we are getting a lot of support from the government, compared to the past. For the CWG preparation, and then the Olympics, players were sent out for tournaments. Their rankings and performance improved.
Shuttlers don't usually go abroad for training, like boxers or hockey players. We believe in our system. The emphasis should be on support staff and having more qualified coaches.
For example, four years ago, we used to get just Rs. 1 crore and had 10 players who would play around the year. Today, we have about 100 players, the money is there, but the people managing it are the same. We have not grown in all directions.
Those who are at the helm, their numbers are the same, which should not be the case. Also, most of the money is going to only the cream of the sport, very little trickles down to the lower end. With the kind of interest shown by corporates, the money showered on players and the kind of results that we have, we need a more streamlined system.