We will have solid bench strength in four years, says Gopichand
Olympic silver-medallist P V Sindhu will take Indian badminton ‘through’ for at least the next four years, feels chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, who foresees a strong bench-strength emerging at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Gopichand, who shaped Sindhu and Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal among others, believes it will take some time for the next big star to emerge.
"Sindhu is just 21 and I think she will take us through for the next few years and by the time she is 25, we will figure something. I don't want to pick a junior name right now, but I can assure you that four years from now we will have solid bench strength in women's singles," Gopichand said.
"It will take a little time, we have prospects like Ruthvika and Rituparna, who also have the potential of doing well. There are others in the ranks. I think it is not easy to produce players back to back."
Asked about the doubles players, Gopichand said: "I think we can say that Pranaav and Sikki have done well and Chirag and Satwik are also there."
"There are at least 6-7 players under the age of 20 who have the potential to do well, so overall good signs for Indian badminton," he added.
Talking about Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who recently won their fifth International challenger title at Vietnam Open, Gopichand said, "...they are just 18 and 19 years old and they are doing well for this age. These matches give them a lot of confidence and they are developing very well.
Indian shuttlers have been plagued by a series of injuries and Gopichand admitted things got a bit messed up last year due to the Olympic qualification.
"One can't predict injuries but last year we messed it up a little bit in terms of the number of tournaments ahead of the Olympic qualification because a couple of them played more tournaments because of the Rio Games. But this season it would be better," he said.
"I don't think injuries are a cause of concern. It is a learning curve. Each of them is learning about themselves. Mulyo Handoyo is also working on the players, he has been with us for two months."
Asked about the status of Glasgow Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap, who has been going through a long injury lay-off, Gopichand said, "Kashyap is fine and he should play in China Open in two weeks' time."
Asked about his life post-Olympics, Gopichand said, "Fortunately or unfortunately, the Olympics have made my life a little tougher in terms of my schedule, so I have not been able to give much time to all projects. I think a lot still needs to be done in every department."