Doubles coach sets long-term goals

Doubles coach sets long-term goals

Tan Kim Her

The performance of badminton doubles players in the Commonwealth Games was a bright point of the Indian campaign, and a lot of credit for that goes to the doubles coach Tan Kim Her. The Malaysian, though, is far from satisfied as he dreams of seeing them on the podium in Tokyo Olympics.

Tan Kim, who had joined the Indian badminton fold in September 2016, said he would be closely following the doubles combinations during the upcoming events -- Thomas and Uber Cup and Asian Games -- after which he would draw a final roadmap for Tokyo. The message is clear. He wants India to win medals at Olympics, even if it means a doubles player reduces his events and focuses only on one.

“The Olympic points start next year in April, so after the Asian Games, I am going to sit down with the players and think carefully which direction we want to go. If we think we can handle two events then we go for two events or else we will have to give up on one event,” Tan said.

“We want to win medals and not go there just to participate. We have made a good start, but it’s not good enough.”

One of the first things which Tan has done after his arrival was rejigging the combinations. The exciting pairing of Ashwini Ponnappa and Satwik Rankireddy or of Satwik and Chirag, who won India’s first men’s doubles silver at the CWG, was the result of this exercise. The women’s doubles pairing of Ashwini and Sikki Reddy also went on to win bronze. All of them played crucial roles in India clinching a historic mixed team gold.

“In women’s doubles, it is not easy to compete. But we have Ashwini and Sikki only and we need to put a lot of work with them. Ashwini and Satwik, the way they have played in Sudirman and even CWG, they have a good chance. But we will talk about all this before the Olympic cycle. With the senior players, you have to listen to them, so there will be a lot of discussions.”

Tan said India would have to adopt a different strategy against the badminton superpowers. “India can’t compete like Korea, Japan, China, even Chinese Taipei, strength-wise. We can’t play the game they play. We have to train different, play different. If you see European players they are not hard-hitters. They are playing a more tactical game and mentally they are strong. Denmark is a good example.”

Tan, however, was confident India could qualify in all three events of doubles in 2020 Games. “We still have two years plus. I have told the players I want your results to be consistent. By 2019 you have to step up your game. By Olympics 2020 anything can happen. We can keep making progress.”