‘Solely Saina Nehwal’s decision’ - Prakash Padukone academy rebuts Gopichand criticism
The statement comes in the wake of India’s chief coach Pullela Gopichand’s comments in an upcoming book, ‘Dreams of a Billion: India and the Olympic Games’ that how miserable he felt when Saina shifted to PPBA.Updated: Jan 13, 2020 23:11 IST
The Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) said on Monday it was solely Saina Nehwal’s decision to shift to Bengaluru from the Gopichand academy in Hyderabad to train under Vimal Kumar before the 2016 Rio Olympics and it played no role in her move. The statement comes in the wake of India chief coach Pullela Gopichand’s comments in an upcoming book ‘Dreams of a Billion: India and the Olympic Games’ that he felt miserable when Nehwal shifted to PPBA after the 2014 world championships. He was quoted as saying that what hurt him the most was the way ‘Padukone and Vimal encouraged her to leave Hyderabad.’ He also says, “It is a mystery to me why Prakash sir has never said anything positive about me while I have always looked up to him as my role model.”
Padukone academy in its response said: “PPBA did not have any role to play in Saina Nehwal’s decision to move to Bangalore and train at PPBA. However, Vimal Kumar did help Saina in her slump period that saw her attain World No.1 ranking, besides getting silver medal at the All England Championships and World Championships.”
Padukone, the first Indian to win the prestigious All England Championships in 1980, opened the academy in 1995 which helped nurture some of India’s top shuttlers. Even Gopichand trained under Padukone and Kumar, and shifted to train under coach Gangula Prasad in the final build-up to his All England victory in 2001.
In an indirect reference to Gopichand himself moving out of PPBA, the statement said: “PPBA has been grooming players over the last 25 years and has always stood for supporting their interest in whatever way we can. We have too many players moving on from our Academy at various stages in their career. We have never believed in restricting their growth, and that will continue to be academy’s policy.”
Saina was enduring a form slump when she decided to leave Gopichand’s academy to train under former international, Kumar.
“The sporting careers of international athletes competing at the highest levels is relatively short, therefore it is up to each player to decide whatever is in his/her interests and make the most of the opportunities available to achieve their respective goals during their peak period. PPBA has utmost regard for Gopichand’s contributions to Indian badminton as a player and a coach. We have also acknowledged Gopichand’s contribution to his wards successful performance at the world level and has always maintained good relations with him.”