Padukone nod for IBL

We have got to get used to hectic scheduling: Saina

Padukone nod for IBL

Two of India’s biggest ambassadors for badminton gave their nod of approval to the inaugural edition of the Indian Badminton League.

Badminton legend Prakash Padukone and London Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal were in the City to launch Yonex’s premier standalone store at the Karnataka Badminton Association premises on Saturday, and the duo shared their views on the $1 million league.

Saina, who led the Hyderabad Hotshots to the title, was clearly impressed with how well the IBL had done in the first edition but was wary of the hectic scheduling.

“I had to sit out the Japan Open because I was very tired and I haven’t really had too much time to recover,” said the 23-year-old. “It has been very hectic with the World Championships and the IBL but that is something we have to come to terms with.”

When asked if the IBL throws a spanner in her training schedule, the Hyderabadi, who once again reiterated that the IBL will eventually be as big as the BCCI-run Indian Premier League, said: “It is hard but it is something we will learn to handle. It was tiring because it is the first edition. From next year, we will have planned everything better and not be under that much stress.”

Padukone, on the other hand, was economical with his opinion since he didn’t get to watch too much of the league as he was away on a vacation, but said he was very happy with what little he got to witness.

“I saw some matches and I was happy with what I saw,” said the first shuttler from India to win the All England Open badminton championship. “I don’t think it would have been too different if something like the IBL was there in my time because it is a progression. I got better than what my seniors got and players nowadays get more. It is a natural progression.”

“There were some organisational issues that they need fix but apart from that I think it was really good. It was very well received by the players and the crowd,” he remarked while adding that he would consider playing a bigger role in the league should he be approached in the future.

During the course of the chat, the topic of World Championship bronze-medallist PV Sindhu came up, and Saina played down the rivalry while Padukone insisted that it was good for the future of Indian badminton.

“No, there was nothing like that. I just played to my strengths. My focus was to ensure that my team won,” said Saina when asked if she put up some of her best performances against the youngster in the IBL to cement her standing at the helm. “It is very good for the sport and it would be even better if they play each other in the finals of big tournaments,” noted Padukone.

The 58-year-old also said it was too early to comment on Sindhu’s success but lauded her for her exploits in the World Championship. “She has a long way to go. She has to train harder and get better but I saw the World Championships and I think she played very well. It is a great achievement,” he signed off.

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