E-book excerpt from ‘The Gopichand Issue’: On Saina Nehwal successful bronze at 2012 London Olympics
‘The Gopichand Issue’ by Abhijeet Kulkarni has a chapter on Saina Nehwal the place he chronicles her relationship with India coach and former participant Pullela Gopichand.
Simply earlier than the beginning of the 2011 season, Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap wrote to the Sports activities Authority of India (SAI), stating that they needed to coach with Bhaskar Babu, who had been with the nationwide squad for over 4 years by then.
A couple of months in the past, Pullela Gopichand had given Saina an earful after he felt that her private life had price her the Asian Video games quarter-final in opposition to Yip Pui Yin. That dressing down had probably not gone down nicely with the rising star of Indian badminton. The coach had additionally began spending extra time with Sindhu, and that solely led to extra pressure between the 2.
Although it was an inside association, with Saina and Kashyap persevering with to coach on the Gopichand Academy, the cracks within the relationship had been there for everybody to see when Gopichand didn’t even hassle to console his most favorite pupil after she misplaced within the opening spherical of the India Open in Delhi in opposition to Japan’s Ai Goto in April 2011.
Gopichand defined to the media individuals wanting to know what was happening that he was busy with another matches, therefore didn’t go to talk to Saina. The coaching continued away from the gaze of the media and Saina even went on to win the Malaysia Masters, beating Xin Wang in Might, and all hell broke free quickly after the information broke of her opting to not practice beneath the chief coach.
Chatting with me, Saina had then talked about the necessity for personalised consideration as the first purpose for her to coach with Bhaskar Babu. However neither Saina nor Gopichand may have afforded the scrutiny of the media at that second, with the 2012 London Olympics simply over a 12 months away, and a compromise was labored out inside days of this improvement.
Sindhu was nonetheless discovering her toes on the worldwide circuit and Gopichand knew that Saina was India’s finest guess for a medal in London. He made his guidelines clear, shunted Bhaskar Babu out of the nationwide camp to underline his authority, emphasised that he wouldn’t tolerate any insubordination after which went about getting ready her for the Olympics.
The Olympic qualification guidelines then allowed three gamers from one nation to take part within the Video games, offered all of them had been within the prime 4. This meant that Saina needed to be seeded among the many prime 4 in London to keep away from any of the three Chinese language earlier than the semi-final stage.
She achieved that aim together with her third Indonesian Open title, beating Li Xuerui of China in June 2012. The preliminary stage of the Olympics went in keeping with plan and he or she bought the higher of Denmark’s Tine Baun to take her place as the one non-Chinese language within the semi-final line-up.
Saina was, nevertheless, outplayed within the semi-final by Yihan Wang and was actually struggling to make an affect within the bronze medal playoff in opposition to Xin Wang till the Chinese language left-hander ruptured her ACL on the finish of the primary recreation and conceded the match after only one level within the second recreation.
Her detractors have since tried to dismiss her medal as a fortunate break. However then one wants to know that luck is an integral a part of any sportsperson’s journey and issues are inclined to even out in the long term.
If Saina was fortunate to win a medal in London, she might be thought of extraordinarily unfortunate to lose out on one in Rio as a result of damage. I had visited Bengaluru within the run-up to the Rio Video games and the way in which Saina was pushing herself, it will have been tough for anybody to beat her.
She had bagged her first World Championship medal in 2015 and had scaled the world rating summit just a few months earlier and was on a excessive when she began getting ready for her third Olympics.
However as luck would have it, she injured her knee just a few weeks earlier than the beginning of the Video games. The medical professionals wrongly recognized it as fats pad irritation and he or she determined to take a cortisone injection to alleviate the ache forward of her group matches. She managed to win her opening match in opposition to Lohaynny Vicente of Brazil however misplaced to Ukraine’s Maria Ulitina in what was her first loss in opposition to a participant outdoors the highest 50 in world rating ever since she broke into the world prime 10 in December 2008. She needed to finally endure a surgical procedure and was out of motion for over three months.
Excerpted with permission from ‘The Gopichand Issue: The Rise and Rise of Indian Badminton’ by Abhijeet Kulkarni, Revealed by Westland Sports activities.
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