Mumbai: Five finals in 2018, zero titles and the agony of finishing second on the podium. PV Sindhu has seen this routine for quite some time now, yet she has been consistently performing well. Losing finals of major events calls for some mental bruising, surely. However, for the silver medallist at the Olympics, Asian Games, World Championships and Commonwealth Games, there's no other option but to forget about the loss and vie for another big title the next day. Routine.
A routine even Pullela Gopichand asks his ward to strictly follow.
"As a top shuttler, Sindhu needs to forget them (losses in major finals) very quickly. That's the bottom line for Sindhu," Gopichand told Firstpost during the launch of the Mumbai Games.
Ever since losing the Rio Olympics final, the World No 3 shuttler has been struggling to stake her claim on the gold medal at major events –World Championships, Hong Kong Open, Dubai Superseries Finals in 2017 and the India Open, CWG, Thailand Open, World Championships, Asian Games finals in 2018.
"She just needs to come back stronger and focus on the process. She does not have the luxury to feel bad after a loss. I think as a top athlete, you need to get over it. The only option is to come back with vengeance," Gopichand added.
The former All England Open winner also addressed the media, talking about the torrid year his wards have had thus far.
Indian badminton has been through a topsy-turvy season, where only World No 9 Saina Nehwal won a top-level world title but Gopichand seemed satisfied with the recent performances.
The 28-year-old Nehwal clinched the Commonwealth Games gold in April this year, beating compatriot PV Sindhu in the final, while India also clinched gold in the mixed team event at Gold Coast.
"I think overall it has been a tough year for us. We hardly had any time for preparations. We had the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the World Championships. Whatever time we had was not enough to really work end-to-end on mistakes."
"At the end of the year we have Srikanth and Sindhu ranked high, we have had medals at major events – Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships. That was our target for this year. I am happy with the performances and looking forward to the coming year."
2018 has been lukewarm if compared with 2017, where Srikanth won four Superseries titles and Sindhu two, apart from reaching the final of the World Championships in Glasgow and the year-ending Finals in Dubai.
The extra effort is what the Indians shuttlers missed at the World Tour events this season. The spark and the guile that left many top dogs panting on the other half of the court. Gopichand believes there's a lot to cover. "Every area needs work. If you look at the way Srikanth has played, he has lost to a couple of them (players) quite frequently, whether it is (Kento) Momota (Japan) or Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei). There have been a few losses there which have been consistent, but if you have to win the big ones, you have to beat them and you have to prepare for them," he said.
Despite the addition of quadrennial events of CWG and Asian Games, Gopichand said the Indians had achieved their target. "I would've loved to see a couple of wins but it's just that the big events are what's important for us. We did well in that," he said.
Favourable coaching ecosystem
Gopichand has his sights set on the need to revolutionise badminton coaching as a profession in India. "Badminton needs a lot of work. We don't have a proper system in place for the sport as yet. In order to produce stars, there's a lot of work to be done. I don't have a quick fix solution for it. I'm not saying we need to educate the coaches, but the entire ecosystem needs to be more favourable," he said.
"Education of coaches is just one aspect of it, but really nurturing of coaches and ensuring your top players and your top brains are converted into coaches...they stay motivated and work with the right kind of players is what is important," he said.
For the 44-year-old, coaching, as a profession, needs to be looked at differently as that's fundamentally the most important thing.
"The other aspect that is also very important is that you cannot look at coaching in isolation. Tournament planning, scheduling and the entire ecosystem in which the player is produced have to be in a way which is coach-led and athlete-centric. That is the model which is successful and the one that we need to adopt. We are far away from it right now," he added.
Some of the current players have shown the desire to take up coaching after retirement. To which Gopichand said: "We have to make it conducive for top players to come into coaching. If it is a job which is respectable and paid well, why not?"
Updated Date: Nov 15, 2018 10:22 AM