National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand is hopeful that his wards will come up with much better performances at the Tokyo Olympics than what they have achieved in the past Summer Games. Also Read - As COVID Cases Soar, NRAI Requests Government to Vaccinate Athletes at The Earliest
The legendary Gopichand has produced two Olympic medalists in Saina Nehwal (bronze) and PV Sindhu (silver) so far. In 2019, Sindhu became the first Indian to win a gold at the world championships. “We have had some good performances in the last couple of Olympics,” Gopichand said. “This time we will go into the Olympics with a world champion in our team and hopefully, with some good preparations, we can come back with better performances than what we have had in the previous Games.” Also Read - Swimmer Srihari Nataraj Creates National Record, Wins Second Gold in Uzbekistan
Explaining what he looks for in upcoming shuttlers, Gopichand said,”Badminton is a sport which is very physical, but also very skill-based. For us, mental attitude and physical attributes play a very important role. When we look at young players, we look at their potential to play at the highest level coupled with the mental strength which is very important to perform at the highest level.” Also Read - Tokyo Marks 100 Days to go Until Olympics Amid Covid Spike
With the Khelo India Youth Games set to get underway from January 10, Gopichand says such initiatives give great exposures to athletes and that they help in portraying sports in a positive light. “An event like Khelo India Youth Games which has all sports together gives a great exposure to athletes. It’s something I am very happy about. And in general, the Khelo India programme, whether it’s the scholarships or the accredited academies, helps in portraying a positive picture for sport,” he said.
“I’ve been very lucky to watch the Delhi and Pune (Khelo India) Games. From a Khelo India Games perspective, I think what the Government of India is doing is very very impressive. It’s very nice for young athletes to get a chance to perform under top international conditions. This experience will definitely help the youth in a big way. From an overall sporting culture perspective, I think this is unique,” he added.