PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen to train in Europe ahead of Paris Olympics 2024 - Hindustan Times
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PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen to train in Europe ahead of Paris Olympics 2024

By, Bengaluru
May 23, 2024 11:07 PM IST

The Sports Ministry's Mission Olympic Cell authorised financial assistance for India's top singles shuttlers.

A third Olympics and the question of another medal looms for PV Sindhu. She spent the weeks ahead of the Tokyo Games attempting to simulate drift conditions of the massive Musashino Forest Sport Plaza with blowers and air conditioners at the Gachibowli indoor stadium in Hyderabad. This time the two-time Olympic medallist will devote her pre-Olympic weeks to training at the Hermann-Neuberger Sportschule facility in Saarbrucken.

India's PV Sindhu plays against Wen-Chi Hsu of Chinese Taipei(PTI)
India's PV Sindhu plays against Wen-Chi Hsu of Chinese Taipei(PTI)

The 29-year-old Indian will fly out to the south-western German city little over a month ahead of the Olympics. Coach Prakash Padukone is likely to join her in the final 10 days of her training before they head to Paris for the Olympics together.

Training aside, what might do Sindhu’s confidence a world of good for the Olympics, her team feels, is for her to beat at least one of her prickly rivals – Carolina Marin, Tai Tzu Ying or An se Young, in the run-up. They’re all expected to play the Singapore Open next week.

“It’s what Prakash believes," said Vimal Kumar, head coach of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy. "Since these are players she’s usually struggled against, it will be crucial to have a breakthrough. It will be the key to her success. She has to find a way to do that. She has played these top girls enough times and needs to beat them now. So much of it is mental, you see.”

Sindhu has had a different coach at each of the Olympics she’s played so far. If it was Pullela Gopichand in Rio de Janeiro, South Korean coach Park Tae Sang was by her side in Tokyo. She medalled at both – a silver and bronze respectively. This time the expectation of a third medal shadows her. “From what I’ve been seeing of her, she’s putting in a lot of hard work. But it will matter little unless she applies herself on court. She has to do that a lot more,” said Vimal, “She preferred to train at the Olympic Centre in Saarbrucken for a longish stint. It could be a good thing.”

The plan for Lakshya Sen to train at the Halle des Sports Parsemain in Marseille, France ahead of the Olympics was drawn up in consultation with the Popovs during the All England Championships this year. The sports ministry on Thursday notified their approval for financial assistance for both Lakshya and Sindhu’s training plans. Apart from support staff, they’ll both be accompanied by two junior players each.

“It’s managed by the Popovs (French badminton family of brothers Christo and Toma Junior Popov and their father and coach Toma) and they were more than happy to reserve two courts for us. We have also been invited to join their group for sparring sessions.”

The badminton matches in the Paris Games will take place at the same venue - Porte de La Chapelle - as the French Open this year. Lakshya had made a run into the semifinals in the tournament. Vimal, who accompanied him, found the conditions perfect with very little drift. Lakshya’s habit of losing points in a clump though is a slight area of concern.

“He’s not able to arrest it at times," said Vimal, "He’s working on it. He has to deal with it tactically. Take a break, change the shuttle. In major events you can’t afford these habits.”

Lakshya typically thrives in big events. “It’s a pretty open field in the men’s singles. No one has been really consistent. Lakshya can very well spring a surprise.”

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