Gopichand won't travel with India's Olympic-bound badminton team to Tokyo
(Sourced from PTI)
Chief National Badminton Coach Pullela Gopichand, who guided India to two Olympic medals, has opted out of India's Olympic-bound badminton contingent to create space for Indonesian Agus Dwi Santosa, who trains singles shuttler B Sai Praneeth. Gopichand took the decision after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) cleared only a five-member support staff, which includes three coaches and two physios. Here's more.
Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu claimed a bronze and a silver medal at London and Rio Games, respectively, under Gopichand's guidance. In the run-up to the Olympics, Sindhu has been training under Korean coach Tae Sang Park at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium; Santoso has been working with Praneeth. Denmark's Mathias Boe was appointed to guide Chirag Shetty and R Satwiksairaj in their maiden Games.
These aforementioned four shuttlers will represent India at the Games. "With just one quota available, Gopichand decided to opt out in order to ensure Santosa could be accommodated who has been training with Sai (Praneeth) since the pandemic," Badminton Association of India (BAI) General Secretary Ajay Singhania told PTI. "It is obvious that players would prefer to have their respective coaches," he added.
With Gopichand deciding not to go, the Indian badminton contingent will comprise nine members, including three foreign coaches—Santoso, Tae Sang, and Boe—and two physios Sumansh Sivalanka and Evangeline Baddam (female), and four players. Last month, the BAI had written to the IOA, proposing a seven-member support staff to accompany the players.
Despite the BAI's proposal, however, with strict COVID-19 protocols and an allotted quota of 33% of support staff, only a five-member support staff could be cleared. According to the norms, the number of officials traveling to the Olympics cannot be more than one-third of the athletes. However, the Sports Ministry can allow additional officials at no cost to the government.