Gopichand bats for players' 'right'

Gopichand bats for players' 'right'

“Unlike in our times, there are plenty of international events nowadays,” said Gopichand, who was the special guest at the Maruti Suzuki all-India Senior ranking badminton tournament here. “Moreover, with the quality of game and opposition having improved, shuttlers need to be at their best always.

“Too much play can result in injuries and in a physically-demanding game like badminton it is even more difficult to make a comeback. Thus the players face a challenge in keeping themselves fresh and fit throughout a challenging calendar.”

Gopichand’s ward Saina Nehwal and national men’s champion Chetan Anand are among those who skipped the tournament that concluded here on Tuesday. With Saina having risen to number two in the world, her presence here would have certainly given a big boost to the sport.

Gopichand, whose term as national coach has been extended for another four years, said the problem could be debated both ways. “I agree that players like Saina and Chetan will pull in large crowds and generate interest. If at all the Badminton Association of India does decide a cap on the number of national tournaments a player needs to participate to earn incentives, it could be argued both ways. Just because one plays more national tournaments, it is unfair to criticise the ones who chose to play internationally.

“At the end of the day everyone plays for India. As I said earlier, it is debatable both ways and a deeply-thought out solution needs to be worked out,” added the former All England champion.

Gopichand also tipped Saina as India’s biggest medal hope in badminton at the Commonwealth Games.

“On current form, Saina is definitely India’s best hope. However, I am confident Chetan could also pull off a big surprise in the men’s event. The biggest competition in the doubles would come from Malaysia and England.”

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